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.

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.

BADGER project, the autonomous underground robotic system

Robotnik participates at the BADGER project, whose goal is the design and development of the BADGER autonomous underground robotic system that will be able to drill, manoeuvre, localise, map and navigate in the underground space, and which will be equipped with tools for constructing horizontal and vertical networks of stable bores and pipelines.

The proposed robotic system will enable the execution of tasks that cut across different application domains of high societal and economic impact including trenchless constructions, cabling and pipe installations, geotechnical investigations, large-scale irrigation installations, search and rescue operations, remote science and exploration, and defence applications.

Robotnik will be the main actor within work package involving Robotic system design and hardware development, plus the overall system integration. This task will focus in the integration of the main locomotion units, propulsion (for driving control along the tunnel) and directional (for steering control).