What is an industrial robot? Industrial robot definition

The definition of an industrial robot system has evolved considerably in recent years.
In order to determine what an industrial robot is, it is useful to consider the changes from their origin to the present day.
The first robots were precisely industrial robots seen as machines capable of executing certain repetitive and fairly static movements.

Today, as technology advances, it is more complex to differentiate between what is an industrial robot, what is a service robot and how to delimit their working areas.
In the World Robotics 2021 report, it is determined that the classification into industrial robot or service robot is made according to their intended application. Industrial robots are robots "for use in industrial automation applications", while a service robot "performs useful tasks for people or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications".

The truth is that inside the industry there are scenarios where robots and humans have to share space and tasks, and therefore, industrial robots are no longer restricted to a safety zone.

More and more often, we find service robots by definition working in industrial applications.
In fact, in the so-called Industry 4.0, collaborative robots play a key role. Today, we would not be talking about collaborative robotics without the prior development of industrial robots systems and their journey towards intelligent automation solutions based on human interaction.

Industrial robot definition

So, what is an industrial robot? An industrial robot is one that has been developed to automate intensive production tasks such as those required by a constantly moving assembly line. As large, heavy robots, they are placed in fixed positions within an industrial plant and all other worker tasks and processes revolve around them.

The characteristics of industrial robots will vary according to the manufacturers, the needs and the scenario in which they are to be located.

The industrial robot definition, according to the international standard ISO 8373:2012 is 'a multifunctional, reprogrammable, automatically controlled manipulator, programmable in three or more axes that can be fixed in one area or mobile for use in industrial automation applications'.
Industrial robots are not usually humanoid in form, although they are capable of reproducing human movements and behaviours but with the strength, precision and speed of a machine.

The following table extracted from the World Robotics 2021 report shows the evolution and forecast of mobile robot installations per year.

grafica

After that, here are some distinctions that are often confused within the industrial robotics sector:

Industrial robot and service robot: The difference here is done according to its intended application. As we read in IFR's 'World Robotics 2021' report: Industrial robots are robots "for use in industrial automation applications" while a service robot "performs useful tasks for people or equipment, excluding industrial automation applications".

According to the same report, the market for professional service robots grew by 12% in 2020, from a sample turnover of $6bn to $6.7bn. In addition, the global pandemic created new opportunities and additional demand for some service robot applications, e.g. cleaning or disinfection applications or other tasks in the healthcare sector such as telecare, transportation of food or supplies, administrative and logistical tasks, etc.

In fact, industrial robot components are increasingly being modified for applications outside the manufacturing environment. The aim is the integration of industrial robot systems into new markets, as in the example of robots in the healthcare sector above.

Industrial robot and autonomous mobile robot: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) are often used in industrial environments, but they do not meet the definition of an industrial robot as such: they have no manipulation capability and no three axes.

Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) and Mobile Manipulator: The IFR classifies AMRs as service robots although, as discussed in the previous point, they are often used in industrial environments. If the AMR platform is equipped with a robotic arm, it becomes a mobile manipulator and would therefore count as an industrial robot.

Robotnik as a manufacturer of mobile robotic systems and as the above IFR classification states, is an expert in the development of AMR and mobile service manipulators, often marketed in industrial environments.

Where are industrial robots used?

Nowadays, it is not only large companies that have access to industrial robots. More and more SMEs are experiencing an increase in profitability and a reduction in production costs by automating certain processes.
One of the objectives of industrial robotics is to optimise production lines making them more agile and adaptable to the specific needs of each customer.

Robotnik has been specialised in the development of industrial robotic applications based on platforms and mobile manipulators for 20 years.
Main areas where Robotnik's industrial robots are integrated:

Robotics in Logistics: autonomous mobile robots for the transport of materials in different areas and mobile manipulators that extend the working area of static collaborative robotic arms. Some logistics tasks where industrial robots are used are pick and place, metrology, packaging, polishing, screwing or drilling or palletising, among others.

rb-vogui

Robotics for inspection and maintenance: integration of robotic systems equipped with sensors or artificial vision in inspection tasks in areas that are difficult to access or dangerous for operators. These robots can operate autonomously or be controlled remotely by an operator.

Where is service robotics used?

Beyond industrial manufacturing environments, the use of mobile robotics has increased significantly in several sectors:

Security and rescue: threat detection and assessment, real-time information gathering and transmission, transportation of goods... Autonomous mobile robotics has a lot to contribute in the area of security, rescue and defense.

Robotics in Agriculture: AMRs are increasingly used for fruit picking, identifying the state of a crop, spraying or sorting to avoid food waste.

Robotics in Construction: Early error detection, automation of hazardous tasks or monitoring and inspection are just some of the tasks that an AMR can perform in the construction sector.

Robotics in Healthcare: as mentioned above, it is already common to see collaborative robots in tasks such as transporting food or supplies, surgical assistance, telecare or administrative tasks.

The following table, elaborated by World Robotics 2021, shows the evolution of service robotics by sector and application:

tabla

 

In conclusion, what exactly do industrial robots look like?
After an approach to what an industrial robot is, these are some of the most demanded mobile robots for use in industrial environments:

RB-THERON is an excellent solution for industrial applications such as factories or warehouses, as it is specially designed for autonomous transport of loads indoors.

RB-ROBOUT the solution for the transport of heavy loads in intralogistics, designed to transport loads weighing up to 1 tonne in industrial environments.

RB-KAIROS+: this mobile manipulator is extremely useful for industrial applications such as pick and place, parts feeding, metrology, quality control, screwing of large parts, packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing, etc. It is designed to work in industrial environments, sharing the work space with operators without risk.

rb-kairos+

RB-VOGUI+: a versatile mobile manipulator for indoor and outdoor logistics applications. The robot is highly mobile so it is able to follow an operator and navigate autonomously in any industrial environment.


diferencia entre AGV y AMR

What is the difference between AGVs vs. AMR?

Although there are some similarities between a mobile guided vehicle and an autonomous mobile robot, this article shows the differences between AGVs and AMR.

AGVs and AMR have specific characteristics that make them useful for different applications. It cannot be determined that AMRs are better than AGV, but rather that each is suitable for the given production context.

There are certain areas where the terms AMR and traditional AGV are used interchangeably. Although an AGV is not really a robot, but a robotic device, as it lacks the autonomy to determine or redefine its own route. By contrast, an AMR can navigate without external guidance. In other words, the AMR has freedom of navigation and decision making.

For example, if the robot is transporting any material from one point to another and encounters a pallet head-on, it will avoid the obstacle and redefine its route.

SUMMIT-XL STEEL

Main difference

An autonomous mobile robot is not simply a programmed machine. The AMR is one that, in addition to the initial programming, has a certain degree of independence to make decisions in the middle of the work environment, without the need for human intervention.

That is to say, not every industrial machine is an AMR because not every machine has the capacity to make decisions based on the information it perceives (unforeseen obstacles, for example).

The main difference between an AGV and an AMR is that AMRs use free navigation by means of lasers, while AGVs are located with fixed elements: magnetic tapes, magnets, beacons, etc. So, to be effective, they must have a predictable route.

In warehouses and places where the work environment is shared with humans, AMRs work better due to their dynamism and efficiency in sharing tasks. In addition, autonomous mobile robots have much more advanced software and hardware, expanding their possible applications: inspection and surveillance tasks, error detection, transport of materials, storage and distribution...

SUMMIT-XL

And how does it perceive this information? Robotnik integrates in its robots sensors and various components that receive, process and analyse data in real time and act accordingly: elevation system, different cameras, lasers or other components.

The flexibility of AMR to work in different locations means, for example, not changing the layout, easier scalability of the number of units and work zones or a clear definition of ROI (especially measurable in small projects that can be scaled up later). Moreover, AMR does not need a specific infrastructure to move around, but can be implemented in any space.

AGV are the predecessors of AMR and have been evolving since the 1950s. They are typically used for the transport of heavy loads, but run on a rail or belt and with a predetermined route. Another feature of the most advanced AGVs is that they are capable of detecting obstacles, but not of re-routing: when encountering an obstacle, the robot will stop.

Where are AGVs and where is AMR used?

Industrial environments are complicated, changing and full of obstacles. It is essential to be able to ensure the safety of operators.

AMR and AGVs have different navigation systems and therefore behave and interact differently.

AGVs are suitable for workspaces with a large number of fixed tasks, as they require installation of the infrastructure through which they will move.

In collaborative and dynamic environments where both humans and machines are needed, customers often opt for AMRs because of their ability to adapt to a changing environment. A mobile robot receives, understands and manages data from the environment in real time, so it is more flexible and has a wider working area.

AMR

How to determine the best solution for a company?

by evaluating the environment, the scenario in which it will be deployed and the specific tasks to be performed by the AMR.

AGVs and AMRs have different applications. In general, AGVs are more effective for less complex tasks such as transporting raw materials, packaging, sorting or delivery. But always with predetermined tasks and routes.

AMR is the best choice for tasks that require Artificial Intelligence. Precisely, it is AI that makes these robots have infinite applications in different sectors: logistics, inspection and maintenance, agriculture or construction, among others.

To sum up, Industry 4.0 is moving towards increasingly intelligent automation in which autonomous robots have become a key tool for Smart Factories.


manipuladores móviles autónomos

Mobile manipulators: the intelligent production for your factory

What exactly is a robot manipulator and what are the real benefits of mobile manipulators?

Robotics and mobile manipulation are on an ever-spinning wheel, advancing to better adapt to the needs of users. Robotnik has been a pioneer in the design and development of autonomous mobile manipulators which, in short, are a natural evolution arising from the union of cobots and AMR.

This article clarifies questions such as what is a manipulator in robotics, what are the advantages of Robotnik's mobile manipulators and other questions of interest.

What were fixed robots a few years ago, evolved into collaborative robots and now Robotnik is already designing and manufacturing more cognitive, responsive and safer flexible mobile robots that lead the industry hand in hand towards the fourth industrial revolution.

As a robotics company founded in 2002, Robotnik has extensive experience in autonomous mobile manipulation and maintains business relationships with leading companies such as Universal Robots, Schunk, Kinova or Senserbot.

An example of mobile manipulation integration in industry is one of Robotnik's recent success stories, based on an industrial implementation at the Dutch gear production company Hankamp Gears BV. It features Robotnik's best-selling autonomous mobile manipulator, the RB-KAIROS+, which is discussed in more detail below.

RB-KAIROS+
RB-KAIROS+

What is an autonomous mobile manipulator robot?

A robot manipulator is basically a robot that integrates a robotic manipulator arm into a mobile platform, combining in a single product the advantages offered by both systems: the precision, dexterity and flexibility of one, and the autonomy and mobility of the other.

Collaborative mobile manipulation is now a reality available to all companies competing in the Industry 4.0 framework. These are autonomous mobile manipulators prepared to work safely in environments where people are present. Their capacity to carry out mechanical and repetitive tasks, covering complete work shifts, make them essential tools for any industry that wishes to position itself at the technological forefront and occupy a relevant position in today's market.

 

Mobile Manipulator applications in industry

  • Handling - Pick & Place
  • Loading / positioning
  • Assembly
  • Screwing, drilling...
  • Inspection and testing
manipulador movil atornillado
RB-VULCANO

Advantages of Robotnik's mobile manipulators

The company's portfolio includes mobile manipulation robots for industrial and R&D applications such as the RB-VOGUI+, XL-GEN or the RB-KAIROS+.

Some of the advantages of Robotnik's mobile manipulators:

  • Easy configuration and installation, adapting to the needs of each customer, with open software and hardware.
  • Collaborative: collaborative mobile manipulators are perfect for sharing workspace with people in total safety.
  • FMS (Fleet Management System) to make it possible to coordinate a fleet of robots sharing the same workspace and resources.
  • HMI (Advanced User Interface) to generate maps and redefine routes and waypoints.
  • Autonomy: its activity complements or replaces, if necessary, the activity carried out by any worker during 1 or more shifts.
  • Omnidirectional movement that allows time reduction, making it 1/5 times faster than a differential one.
  • Free navigation as opposed to the fixed routes of traditional AGVS.
  • Advanced intelligent functions such as people tracking, coupling to machinery or voice communication, among others.

Within Robotnik's portfolio of mobile manipulators, there is a model that stands out.

RB-KAIROS+: Robotnik's most requested mobile manipulator
This innovative collaborative mobile manipulator is specially designed for the development of industrial applications. RB-KAIROS+ is the robot for logistics and industrial mobile manipulation, for Pick&Place, Fetch & Carry, Machine Tending or operations on large parts, among others.

RB-KAIROS+
RB-KAIROS+

 

Competitive advantages of the RB-KAIROS+:

As well as having all the advantages mentioned in the previous point, common to all mobile manipulators in Robotnik's portfolio, these are some of the benefits that customers of the RB-KAIROS+ have highlighted after its use:

  • Versatility, increased profitability and improved production processes due to the possibilities of integrating the entirety of UR's e-Series arms with the autonomous mobile platform.
    The AMR is UR+ certified, ready for the integration of a UR e-Series arm.
    Universal Robots is one of the giants in collaborative robotic arm manufacturing. Its cobots are safe, flexible and easy to use, so the synergy between the two companies has allowed the development of Robotnik's most demanded mobile manipulator: the RB-KAIROS+.
  • Easy to configure and adaptable: The open software and hardware in ROS, implies a much simpler set-up than other mobile manipulators. This turns the robotic arm into a mobile manipulator in an intuitive way.
  • Increased efficiency in tasks such as pick&place. With a payload of up to 250 kg, it adds value in handling heavy loads and automating storage tasks.
  • Collaborative: This mobile manipulator is completely autonomous and allows the robotic arm to work in different locations, extending its work area, making it perfect for sharing workspace and tasks with humans.
rb-kairos
RB-KAIROS+

 

Incorporating mobile manipulation into your industrial plant?

In recent years, the number of industries automating their production lines by incorporating one or more mobile manipulators into their plant has grown considerably.

To find the solution that best suits your specific needs, Robotnik offers a free consultation service without compromise, in which the professionals will advise you personally.

In any case, there are some key aspects that you can take into account to assess the feasibility before deciding:

  1. What is your environment like?
    A working environment can be structured or unstructured.
    Structured means that the robot will not encounter many unexpected obstacles around it, i.e., there will be no modifications to the layout so that the robot maintains the landmarks that allow it to position itself.
    If it is unstructured, the robot will only be able to avoid dynamic, i.e. unexpected, obstacles if it maintains around 20% of the reference points. When it detects them, it will intelligently re-route its path, ensuring safety and cost-effective working time.
  2. What features does the building need to have?
    The floor is a very important aspect to take into account, as uneven floors affect the accuracy of the odometry and the vibrations generated by the laser measurement. In addition, mechanical wheels may have some limitations in some environments: oily or greasy floors, very dirty, gritty or rough floors.
    Walls and shelves are important for the robot to navigate the floor, locating and mapping simultaneously. Robotnik's mobile manipulators will take these as a reference and a variation of no more than 20% from the original layout will not affect the robot's performance.
    On the first day, the robot is walked around the site, moving it in a teleoperated way with a remote control and generating a real route that will be the basis for the future navigation of the robot.
    Aspects such as the dimensions of the corridors or the height of the doors must be adapted to the robot's footprint. The omni-directional wheels are another great advantage of Robotnik's mobile manipulator because of their 360° versatility, especially for industrial applications where the robot can easily move in small aisles, for example.
  3. How much precision does your application require?
    By default, the positional accuracy provided by LiDAR for SLAM navigation is about 5 to 10 cm. This accuracy may be sufficient for a normal application where the robot simply transits from point A to point B or goes to several waiting points. But for specific applications such as Pick&Place or interaction with other machinery, this accuracy can be improved up to 1 mm.
    This is achieved by adding sensors or QR codes. This is done, for example, for docking: we add a code that the camera recognises and is able to relocate.
  4. How much payload do you need to carry?
    Each Robotnik mobile manipulator has a different payload capacity, so you can find the best robot option depending on the payload you require.
    Specifically, the standard configuration of RB-KAIROS+ has a payload of up to 250 kg. Other versions are also available with collaborative arms with payloads of 3 kg, 5 kg and 16 kg.
  5. How are work shifts set up?
    One of the great benefits of Robotnik's mobile manipulators is that, with the right fleet of robots - optimised in number of units - it is possible to work full 24-hour shifts. The robots will perform automatic battery charging when necessary. The robot is equipped with a charging station to which it can be connected autonomously. It is possible to command the robot to perform a charging action, to launch a terminal, to launch wirelessly, to launch an industrial protocol as a rest or also to launch the Universal Robots poliscope interface.

 

Mobile manipulation is a definite boost on the way to Industry 4.0, also known as connected industry.
The use of mobile manipulators promotes flexible and intelligent industrial automation that increases the competitiveness of a factory by making better use of its resources.

Robotnik is not only committed to automation, but also to intelligent automation, which involves developing mobile robots capable of self-managing and making decisions without human intervention.

 

 


Robotnik eases the implementation of collaborative robots in SMEs

  • Robotic Automation: Deliveries for small logistics.
  • Robotic automation and collaborative robots are no longer only available to large companies.

Robotnik is involved in many projects that give SMEs the possibility to implement autonomous mobile robots and become part of Industry 4.0.

One of these projects is the RB-LOG: Robotic Logistics, which has revolved around developing a new cost-effective indoor robotic transport solution that is especially suitable for deliveries for small residences, hotels, supermarkets, robotic in warehouses, and other small semi-structured buildings and will automate the transport process and free manpower for the tasks that require it.

After these years of experience in the sector, we have worked with small industry customers who were looking for new solutions to improve their products and make tasks more rentable, and we have seen how the introduction of collaborative robots, really gave a 360º turn to the SME.

Robotic Automation, should we choose between robots or employees?

There is a certain perception in small and midsize companies that cobots and collaborative mobile robotics, in general, threaten the jobs of employees. The reality is quite different: collaborative robotics has come to guarantee the future of the company by making it cost-effective, thus making it possible for those jobs to be maintained.

As we read in an article by the IFR (International Federation of Robotics):

‘Manufacturers and logistics providers are under increasing pressure to produce and ship smaller, customized orders in short timeframes. Many are automating the production process to be able to respond more efficiently to new orders. Some are also restructuring production and logistics, moving from linear production and logistics lines to a series of standard production cells which can be rapidly reconfigured to the task at hand.’

‘Small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMEs) form the backbone of most manufacturing economies, but many have been slow to automate. A number of developments are changing this. First, robots are now easier to program and re-task, throught intuitive interfaces and demonstration. Second, the new generation of collaborative robots can easily be integrated into existing production processes alongside workers – versus replanning the whole production line for automation’. 

At the end of the H2020 project, in which Robotnik has participated as coordinators, we can draw conclusions and determine whether it has met the initial objectives.

RG-LOG: autonomous logistics transport 

Although it is true that automated transport solutions already existed for large structured environments, they did not exist for smaller buildings or semi-structured environments. The goal was to develop a new, low-cost indoor robotic conveyor solution that would be particularly suitable for small residences, shops, hotels, supermarkets and warehouses where the material handling process could be automated, freeing up employee time for more value-added tasks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE26I4c5BL8

In other words: for autonomous inland logistics transport in small buildings in semi-structured human environments.

To this purpose, Robotnik has collaborated with UBITECH and SingularLogic Cy to develop RB-LOG, a modular and adaptable hardware and software system, composed of autonomous transport robots that will be coordinated by an intuitive and flexible Fleet Management System (FMS).

The main objective of the RB-LOG project was to develop a fleet of low-cost robots governed by a Fleet Management System (FMS) and capable of performing autonomous logistic transport tasks inside small buildings or semi-structured environments.

RB-LOG pilot tests

Robotnik shows you how we have tested the system progressively, from the beginning of the project until its completion. The following pilot tests were carried out, in 3 different phases:

  • Pilot Phase 1: The necessary transports, charging/discharging points, lifts, battery charging station position, etc. were defined. A solution study was carried out and the number of charging/uncharging stations and positions and expected functionality of the system was determined. A first robot was installed and started to perform the trolley transport functions. The system was interfaced with the main lift and adapted for Phase II where a second robot was to be installed as well as the distributed periphery for the loading/unloading stations.
  • Pilot Phase 2: The second robot was installed as well as the trolley charging points and the battery charging station. Communication with the main lift was completed. Defined the loading/unloading bays for one basement floor. Testing of loading/unloading functionality, as well as lift entry/exit, was carried out.
  • Pilot Phase 3: It was planned to be developed between December 2019 and April 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ave Maria Foundation remained closed, allowing occasionally and with restrictions the entry of family members. In these circumstances, we had to change plans. Finally opted to replicate a trolley transport environment with two robots in Robotnik's facilities.

Conclusions of the project

  • Robotnik has worked in a coordinated way and we can conclude that the project was developed according to the initial schedule. All the project objectives were met and the planned tasks were executed 100%.
  • RB-LOG yields interesting results in terms of logistics for SMEs: We have achieved one of the most important objectives of the project: to have an advanced fleet management system whose installation and configuration is intuitive and at a reasonable cost.
  • This FMS is already being implemented in industrial applications performed by Robotnik.
  • A new robot lift system has been developed and has become a successful product that Robotnik sells and installs with the RB-1 BASE model robots.
  • Robotnik has found that many companies have solved the logistics of large loads but have shortcomings in the transport of small loads for which small and versatile robots such as the RB-1 BASE are needed.

Its 10 hours of autonomy, 50kg load, or lifting unit are some of the advantages of this model that have been successfully tested in the project.


robots in logistics

RB-VOGUI, a collaborative robot for outdoor transport in industry

The Eurecat technology center and Robotnik Automation have developed the RB-VOGUI, a highly modular, autonomous and collaborative land robot designed for the autonomous transport of materials in the industrial and construction sectors, with a design that provides an advanced human-robot collaboration system.

As part of the European COBOLLEAGUE project, the robot is focused on autonomous navigation in outdoor industrial environments, which are characterized by uneven terrain and a wide variety of static and dynamic obstacles.

It is a highly mobile, all-terrain modular mobile base suitable for transporting loads of up to 200 kg.  Its design includes features that enable people tracking, gesture detection and voice-based control.

RB-VOGUI is able to generate a map of its environment and to locate and navigate it safely, being able to perform inter-plant transport tasks or last-mile transport tasks This map is also capable to identify all obstacles as well as possible cliffs and holes where the robot can fall through or collect data in construction environments that can then be used in conjunction with the building information modelling system BIM (Building Information Modeling).

Utility of mobile robotics in industry

According to Roberto Guzman, CEO of Robotnik, "the COBOLLEAGUE project demonstrates, once again, the utility of mobile robotics for applications in which repetitive tasks are performed, in this case, automating outdoor transportation in industry and construction. Our experience of almost 20 years in service robotics allows us to adapt our general purpose robots to different verticals, being able to provide mobile solutions in a wide variety of applications and sectors".   

In the words of the director of the Eurecat Robotics and Automation Unit, Daniel Serrano, "after more than a decade of R&D in location and autonomous navigation, in this project we have managed to develop a 3D location and mapping that takes advantage of the building model extracted directly from BIM. This project demonstrates the potential of the application of service robots in the construction sector, with many possibilities for the future".

Robotnik in Cobolleague project

Within the Cobolleague project, Robotnik has been responsible for the provision of the mechatronic solution and the development of the conceptual design, safety and human factors, as well as business case validation and industrial engagement. A new kinematic configuration has been developed to give the RB-VOGUI robot chassis greater mobility and allows it to perform autonomous transport tasks in urban environments or in unstructured environments with difficult terrain. A 3D laser localization and navigation system has been developed that has proven to work robustly, both indoors and outdoors.

mobile robot

Eurecat in Cobolleague project

For its part, Eurecat has been responsible for developing a BIM (Building Information Model) based interface that processes 3D building information, adding structural data to a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) system used by a mobile robot. Thus, the robot can access a 3D map of the reference model and determine its own location in the construction environment, saving time and performing autonomous navigation to a destination, without first exploring the map. 

Futhermore, Eurecat's implementation allows tracking the status of construction and flagging updates to the reference model, a relevant feature for the construction industry. Eurecat also provides the integration of a multimodal worker-robot interface, so that the robot follows the workers in complete safety. 

COBOLLEAGUE has been supported by the ESMERA (European SMEs Robotics Applications) project, in its call for robotic solutions to industrial challenges. ESMERA is a consortium formed by four technology centers (the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Automation Systems of the University of Patras; the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives; and the Tekniker Foundation and Technische Universität München), and three industrial partners (Blue Ocean Robotics; COMAU; and R.U. Robots).

Video demostration here.


Industry 4.0

Mobile Robots in Industry 4.0: automation & 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.

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.


robots in healthcare industry

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.

If you are interested in collaborative mobile robotics, don't forget to subscribe to our blog!


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.