Mobile Robots in Industry 4.0: automation and flexibility

Industry 4.0, also known as Connected Industry, is the industry stage that has consolidated the use of connectivity and collaborative robotics in industrial processes, creating workspaces in which humans and robots can work safely together and share information to optimize processes, thus resulting in better decision-making.

The use of mobile robots and mobile manipulators creates the flexible and autonomous industrial automation needed to create Smart Factories, where the greatest asset is the exchange of information made possible by the integration of the latest intelligent technologies into robotics, such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, or Big Data.

automation industry 4.0

This gives rise to the possibility of using intelligent, autonomous, and collaborative mobile robots which allow the creation of more efficient, optimal industrial processes with better use of resources, resulting in all-around greater productivity.

Industry 4.0 and the Age of Mobile Robotics

The combination of ICT and smart technologies has ushered in an era of mobile robotics with characteristics and features that widen its industrial applications and its capacity to process data, perform actions, and adapt to different working environments.

Thanks to R&D processes such as those developed by Robotnik, collaborative mobile robotics can take charge of the execution of repetitive processes, adapting the robots’ movements to the information they receive, process and share, thanks to the latest state-of-the-art software and sensors.

This has brought about very significant changes, for example, in the application of mobile robotics for pick & place logistics tasks or for general industrial applications as part feeding, metrology, quality control, operations on large parts or packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing or drilling,  where the repeatability and uniformity of actions are key to saving costs and streamlining processes.

What features enable collaborative mobile robotics to create intelligent factories?

Intelligent automation

This means that a mobile robot is not only capable of performing a task without human intervention, but that it is also capable of self-management and decision making, due to its ability to access, generate, and process information

In this way, the mobile robot doesn’t only take on the execution of repetitive or dangerous processes; it can also decide to change its route or adapt its omnidirectional movements at any given moment, thanks to the simulations it can recreate and the predictive models it generates with the data it collects in real time.

Connectivity

This is what makes a machine-to-machine (M2M) communication possible: the creation of decentralized systems and the possibility for robots to interact with humans through integrated interfaces that simplify the collaborative work.

This also allows collaboration with other components that can be integrated into mobile platforms, such as artificial vision systems or robotic arms.

Flexibility

This is the adaptability that mobile robots and mobile manipulators have at their disposal, to modify their way of working, according to the demands of the production line, or the changes in the working environment.

Executing different tasks, adapting their speed, creating alternative routes, or changing sections in real time are all well within the capabilities of a mobile robot with intelligent navigation.

Within this ability to adapt, Robotnik has gone one step further with the creation of mobile manipulators that provide mobility and autonomy to the collaborative arms, with a simple plug and play integration.

Robotnik’s contributions to the evolution of Industry 4.0 

Robotnik is an expert in the design, manufacture, and marketing of mobile robots and mobile manipulators, with all the necessary features to enable any industry to adapt them to its own needs.

Their close collaboration with different types of industries has made it possible for Robotnik to innovate and create new tailor-made solutions to widen and enhance the industrial applications of mobile robots.

  • This has led to the development of an own Fleet Management System (FMS), which coordinates the operation of several robots and mobile manipulators working in the same area, sharing resources and creating coordinated flow control to save resources and create more efficient processes.
  • The integration of the latest intelligent technologies has enabled the provision of mobile robots with new functionalities that can improve collaborative work. Some cases in point are voice control, people tracking, or autonomous coupling to other machines.
  • The development of an Advanced user interface (HMI) allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.  It allows the client/user to control the operations of mapping, localization and navigation directly from any device connected to the robot network.
  • And, finally, it has enabled the creation of mobile manipulators compatible with different automated components that expand their industrial applications. Here we have the innovative RB-KAIROS+ Mobile Robot, a robotic platform with omnidirectional kinematics equipped for the integration of the Universal Robots e-Series arm. This allows unlimited expansion of the cobot workspace, because the collaborative mobile manipulator can work in different locations.  In this sense, it enables a wide range of new applications and it is a great complement for current URe arm users.

It is this continuous process of research and development that has enabled robotics to begin taking on new tasks in different fields and sectors. 


Robotnik and the Spanish technologies in the fight against COVID-19

‘El Mundo’ newspaper has just published an article about the different technologies developed by Spanish companies in the fight against COVID-19. Among them are Robotnik's mobile robots that, among other things, help to maintain the much-needed safety distance between healthcare personnel and patients themselves. These are collaborative mobile robots that transport food or medicines or have implemented modules to telemedicine or disinfection. The possibilities are vast.

If you want more information, see the full article here.


The importance of collaborative robotics in the fight against COVID-19

Robotics has emerged as one of the technologies that is most contributing to the fight against COVID-19, providing numerous solutions to the needs that the pandemic has raised. In this way, also, it has contributed to revitalizing the economy, which has been severely reduced by the health situation we are experiencing worldwide. In fact, it has brought to light the importance of robotics and the prominent role they play at the moment, as it is already happening in the current industry 4.0 and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain or cybersecurity, among others. There are numerous applications in which collaborative robotics is already present, something that had to be reflected in these times of crisis.

Why is robotics key right now?

In the fight against the virus, one of the measures that has been shown to work to prevent contagion is to maintain a safe distance between people. And here collaborative robotics has a lot to say.

Specifically, mobile robots working in hospital can perform autonomous tasks such as:

  • Transportation of food.
  • Transportation  of medicine
  • Transportation of  laundry supplies.
  • Disinfection tasks.
  • Telemedicine.

In this way, the physical relationship between health personnel as well as patients and staff in general who transit through the hospital is avoided. All these tasks are the usual ones when we talk about collaborative mobile robotics (this last concept, collaborative means that robots, thanks to the integrated sensorization, can work safely in environments with humans).

Already in 2008, Robotnik noticed the importance of robotics and launched its AGVS robots in several hospitals, which were used precisely to autonomously transport different goods through the hospital. This made it possible to automate a repetitive and tedious activity while preventing it from being carried out by a person, who could dedicate his time to carrying out tasks of greater added value.

Current projects from Robotnik

The same idea of ​​maintaining the safety distance between people is at the base of the RADERPAC project (Rapid Deployment Robot for Pandemic Crises) that Robotnik is currently developing and is funded by the Generalitat Valenciana (Spain). In consists of the development of a modular robot designed to work in hospitals allowing the assembly of a module for disinfection and fumigation (something fundamental in the fight against COVID-19). This same mobile robot will serve as the basis for other health purposes such as telemedicine, telepresence or the transport of loads previously mentioned.

Robotnik has extensive experience in the development and supply of this type of robot, the use of which goes beyond the healthcare environment, also being used in areas of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological contamination. This technology can be applied almost immediately for many applications, using robots as the first separation barrier against the virus and thus helping to protect the workforce and the patients themselves, which showcases the importance of robotics in this sector.

Other projects Robotnik is currently working on is ENDORSE, which is part of the H2020 program of the European Union. This R&D project is based on developing logistics and diagnosis applications for hospitals. In it, different developments will be carried out in order to automate various tasks within a hospital, from the distribution of medicines and materials to the monitoring of the health status of patients. All of them aimed at reducing contact between people.

There are many applications that are being carried out and that highlight the importance of robotics at the present time. To those already mentioned, the following can be added:

  • Collaborative robotic arms (cobots) as a working tool for physical therapists. These would serve to interact with the patient without having to physically touch him.
  • Robots for the automatic performance of COVID-19 tests.
  • Robots for processing these tests quickly and efficiently. Something that, for example, the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) is working on.
  • Robots to manufacture masks. In Spain, thanks to the help from some large companies, it has been possible to increase the number of masks that healthcare personnel especially needed.
  • Telepresence robots. Based on our Summit-XL Steel, we found a robot that uses the latest advances in artificial intelligence, digital signage, and video analysis and that performs tasks such as analysing the number of visitors, age, and gender of them.

In the field of telepresence there are striking proposals that highlight, once again, the importance of robotics. This is the case of quadruped robots that, in principle, were designed for rescue and transport tasks and have ended up serving as a medical tool to check the condition of patients without the need for a physical presence by the doctor, only using the tablet that incorporates the robot.

This same robot has been used in Singapore to, using loudspeakers, send messages to the population reminding them of the importance of staying at least 2 meters away.

The pandemic that we are currently experiencing and that affects everyone, has forced to redouble efforts in all areas. Robotics could not be left out of it. On May 4, the European Commission launched the Coronavirus Global Response initiative and mobilized a total of € 1.4 billion to fight the virus. On May 20, it mobilized another 122 million euros to support a series of R&D actions to combat COVID-19. This framework of actions highlights the importance of robotics, which will continue in force once we move forward and place ourselves in the future that COVID-19 leaves us.

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UNO Logistics Organization shares our robotics solutions for the sector

UNO Logistics, the Logistics and Transport Business Organization, dedicates a complete article to us in the analysis of the different industrial solutions of our company for the logistics industry. Robotnik has been carrying robotic mobile robots for different industrial sectors since its origin, with special dedication to the transport of goods and industrial mobile manipulation since 2008, when we started to implement our robots and our Fleet Management System (SGF) in hospitals.

Would you like to read the full article? We leave it here.


Robotnik puts its technology at the service of the COVID-19 health crisis

In the current world crisis caused by COVID-19, and foreseeably in other future ones with similar characteristics that we are facing, health and non-health personnel are exposed to direct contact with infected patients. The COVID-19 virus has an infection capacity more than 3 times greater than the 1918 Spanish flu. Despite security measures, only in Spain more than 13% of health personnel have been infected in this first wave of the pandemic.

In this context, the use of robotic systems reduces the contact of these personnel with patients or, also, non-health personnel, keeping them away from risk areas to carry out their services. Robots can help automate many of the tasks that are performed on a daily basis in a hospital: cleaning, disinfection, communication with the patient, transport of food, transport of patients, telemedicine (temperature measurements, blood pressure, oximetry, etc. ...) as well as many others, which significantly reduces the risk of all personnel.

Robotnik has extensive experience in the development and supply of logistics robots, as well as modular robots with the ability to mount different "loads" or modules that can be used in environments with nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological contamination. This technology can be applied almost immediately for many of the applications already specified, using robots as the first separation barrier against viruses and thus helping to protect workforce.

In the specific case of the telemedicine module, Robotnik is participating in the European project ENDORSE. This project aims to validate the integration of an electronic diagnostic module (equipped with non-invasive sensors) in a mobile robot base from Robotnik, so that it can serve as a direct interface to obtain the patient's status remotely.

The fight against COVID-19 is a global fight and helping to combat this pandemic must be a joint commitment of all the social agents, who have to make their contribution in the different areas to the best of their ability.


ID Logistics bets on for the Collaborative Mobile Robots with Robontik's solutions

The SUMMIT-XL STEEL model works in the facilities of the logistics company facilitating the tasks of the operators.

The objective is the automation of the transport of materials in their processes of picking and preparation of orders in the e-commerce sector. The application includes autonomous transport from the point of collection of items to the preparation and shipping area. In addition, there is a tracking mode in which the Collaborative Mobile Robot (CMR) follows the operator while collecting. Once when it is completed, the robot returns autonomously to the unloading area.

The Collaborative Mobile Robot automates a task that is repetitive and tedious, which ultimately results in an optimization of the work processes and, therefore, a better result. Thanks to the user interface, which is developed by Robotnik, the operator can interact with the robot in a very easy way through a touch screen. SUMMIT-XL STEEL has a robust design that allows it to support loads of up to 250 kg. For industrial applications of freight transport in indoor environments, such as warehouses or factories, Robotnik offers a solution that includes the fleet of robots itself, the Fleet Management System and the user interface (HMI). This enables the final customer to control their collaborative robots in a very easy, fast and effective way.

Robotnik's Collaborative Mobile Robots, which work together with people with full security in work environments, making possible a fast and flexible start-up. Autonomous navigation is used with security lasers, so it is not necessary to install external physical elements (beacons, magnetic tapes, etc.).


What is SWARM Logistics Assistant?

SWARM Logistics Assistant comes up from H2020 CPSwarm project. In it, Robotnik contributes with its knowledge in Cyber Phisical Systems. Robotnik has large experience in ROS, software used by all their robots, furthermore in the simulation software. The project has several mobile platforms from Robotnik, which are working to supporting the workers in tedious tasks in a warehouse.

The robots also make a scanner of the warehouse work space and share this information to updating the data base in real time. Likewise, the robots also collect additional information related to matters such as the ambient temperature, the presence of human beings, the detection of obstacles along the way, etc.

In the following video you can see the feasibility and effectiveness of the project:

 

 


Mobile manipulators for industry: the future is now

Industry 4.0 has opened the way to multiple forms of automation that aim to optimize productivity and improve work processes.

There are many companies, of different sizes, that already have different collaborative robots, that is, those that are designed to share with people a work environment with total security. The mobile manipulators (robot arm onboard a mobile robot) are the next step after the collaborative arms (cobots) and the collaborative mobile robots (CMR).

To fit in an industrial environment, a mobile manipulator must comply with several features:

  • Must be able to work with people safely
  • Must be autonomous
  • Not too expensive in setup time.
  • Easy setup and installation
  • Robustness and cycle time

In the industrial field, autonomous mobile manipulators can perform repetitive or heavy tasks. Among their tasks may be picking up and transporting goods.

Robotnik has been established as a European reference company in mobile service robotics. We provide a reliable solution that integrates robots, localization systemsconfiguration and programming tools (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS).

We have large experience in mobile manipulation, being partners of companies like Universal Robots, Schunk, Kinova or Barrett Technology. We have several products as RB-1, XL-GEN or RB-Kairos. The last one,  RB-Kairos integrates a UR5 arm from Universal Robots, one of the most established arms in the industry worldwide. In this sense, RB-Kairos is  suitable for the development of industrial tasks.

 


Robotnik, the solution for interior logistics according to Interempresas.net

Interempresas.net has published the article today: Robotnik lanza su website para logística interior.

The number one platform of the Spanish language industry highlights the advantages of collaborative robots for SMEs and the integral solution offered by Robotnik Logistics. They say Robotnik Logistics that contains the solution and portfolio of collaborative mobile robots for internal transport tasks.

Interempresas.net does not forget to mention Robotnik's extensive real-world deployment experience since the first collaborative mobile robot that the company launched was in 2008 for autonomous transport in hospital environments.

Collaborative mobile robots help to obtain maximum efficiency for companies in their work processes by transporting goods indoors, thus optimizing repetitive, tedious and / or dangerous logistics tasks.

 


Warehousing, fulfillment and DC transformation trends by Frank Tobe

Robohub recognizes the Robotnik's contribution to the logistics market with its collaborative mobile robots.

Warehousing, fulfillment and DC transformation trends by Frank Tobe →