Mobile manipulator robots

A mobile manipulator robot is the natural evolution of the union of a robotic manipulator arm and a mobile platform. The mobile manipulator, combines the precision, dexterity and flexibility of one, and the autonomy and mobility of the other.

The fourth industrial revolution has accelerated the process of automation in all industrial sectors. Statistics show a significant growth in the use of mobile manipulation robots. 

Unstructured industrial environments challenge these manipulation robots due to their changing nature. Although the state-of-the-art has not yet reached its peak, we can already find manipulation robots like as the RB-KAIROS+ efficiently executing autonomous material handling applications such as Pick & Place, Fetch & Carry, Machine Tending, inspection and verification or operations with large parts.

Robotnik is a pioneer in the development and manufacture of autonomous mobile manipulation robots capable of operating in collaborative environments, safely sharing space with humans. 

What is a mobile manipulator robot?

A mobile manipulator robot is the natural evolution arising from the union of a robotic manipulator arm on a mobile platform in such a way that the precision, dexterity and flexibility of one is combined with the autonomy and mobility of the other. 

Traditional industrial arms operate in a fixed, static space, while a mobile manipulator robot allows the robot’s functions to be expanded, thereby increasing operational capacity and return on investment. 

These mobile manipulator robots have different load capacities, arm reach distance, degrees of freedom, speed and autonomy time. Robotnik’s RB-KAIROS+ has a payload capacity of 12.5 kg on the arm and up to 250 kg on the platform, a speed of 1.5 m/second, an arm reach distance of 1,300 mm and an autonomy of up to 12 hours, depending on the application. 

A large percentage of mobile manipulators are marketed for logistics tasks but their use is spreading to more industrial sectors such as inspection, agriculture, defence and the health sector.    

Advantages of using mobile manipulator robots

Pick & Place tasks are often dreaded by workers in logistics environments, because they are repetitive and tedious. But they are unavoidable in manufacturing environments. Robot handlers are great tools to automate these tasks and streamline the production process, saving people from the overload they entail.

In addition to simplifying processes, these are the 5 main advantages of mobile robot manipulators:

Optimisation of resources

Reduction of economic costs

Reduction of unproductive times

Possibility of operating in any location

Constant and precise work rhythm

Industrial mobile manipulator robots

Autonomous material handling requires advanced robotics systems with the ability to understand, process and respond to commands. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality and Big Data enable the mobile manipulator to perform precise and safe autonomous handling tasks. 

Manipulation robots are advanced robotics systems that, thanks to the availability of a wide variety of equipment, tools and end-effectors, can perform anything from simple handling tasks to complex applications, for example inspection, or more specific ones such as screwing or sanding. The equipment itself is able to perform inspection tasks and identify the environment for the detection and location of the elements to be handled. A manipulator robot can perform precise and safe autonomous material handling tasks. For example, tasks where the application itself may involve any danger for the operator: sanding operations with small particles in suspension, continuous transport of heavy loads or handling of dangerous elements.

For tasks on large workpieces, a single mobile manipulator can perform the entire application, greatly reducing installation time and costs.

High precision is particularly important for manipulation robots. The use of LiDAR devices and SLAM techniques for navigation provides mobile platforms with a precision between 5 and 10 cm. With specific referencing systems, a positioning accuracy of up to 1 mm can be achieved. It is also possible to implement arm reference systems to detect the working area and adjust the manipulator positions during the actual handling operation, for example, vision systems. In addition, the omnidirectional movement systems available on Robotnik’s platforms offer great freedom of movement; something especially useful for reduced spaces such as corridors or confined areas.  

Another technological advance that enhances application development is simulation tools that reduce implementation time and impact on production.

Mobile manipulator robots transform the way companies confront operational challenges. The synergy between arm interaction and platform navigation provides new, smarter and more efficient ways to make processes more cost-effective. 

Industries are now able to establish increasingly profitable and safe working ecosystems for humans. 

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