Kivnon brings perfect Pallet Stacking to Logistics & Automation 2022

Kivnon will be presenting its most advanced and safest AGV/AMR Forklift at the event

21 September 2022, Barcelona: Kivnon, an international group specializing in automation and mobile robotics, is attending Logistics & Automation in Spain and will be showcasing it’s safe and versatile K55 AGV/AMR Forklift Pallet Stacker. Putting the emphasis on forklift safety, Kivnon K55 is equipped with advanced safety features to guarantee safe operations as it collaborates, moves, and reacts in a facility.

The Kivnon K55 is designed to move and stack palletized loads at low heights and performs cyclic or conditioned routes while interacting with other AGVs/AMRs, machines, systems, and people, making it a highly effective and safe solution. The model incorporates safety scanners that allow the vehicle to ensure 360-degree safety and operate seamlessly in shared spaces. The fork sensors help assess the possibility of correct loading or unloading of the pallet, keeping the transported goods safe.

Thierry Delmas, Managing Director at Kivnon, says, “AGVs/AMRs are revolutionizing internal logistics. The rising forklift safety challenge is of deep concern, and with the K55 we have taken a step forward to address the global issue. The Kivnon range is designed to ensure safe and reliable operations and to optimize operational efficiency.”

During the event, which runs from 26 – 27 October at IFEMA, Madrid, Kivnon will demonstrate the capabilities of the K55 Pallet Stacker. The vehicle can autonomously transport palletized loads of up 1,000 kg and lift them to heights of up to 1 meter. The vehicle is capable of performing cyclical or conditional circuits and interacting with other AGVs/AMRs, machines, and systems. Highly adaptable, the K55 is perfect for any open-bottom or euro-pallet storage application, receipt and dispatch of goods, and internal material transport. Its use will optimize safety, storage space, and process efficiency.

A robust industrial product, the K55 provides the reliability required to ensure continuity of production process and flexibility to adapt to specific application needs, with an online battery charging system that can function 24/7 with opportunity charges.

Delmas continues, “The Logistics and Automation show is an important networking event where customers can learn about the latest technologies and innovations. We pride ourselves on innovation and are excited to have this opportunity to showcase the capabilities of our products. In addition to the K55, our robust portfolio also includes twister units, car and heavy load tractors, low-height vehicles, and cart pullers, meeting multiple application needs”

The efficiency and precision of Kivnon AGVs/AMRs will be on display and Kivnon robotics experts will be available throughout the show to answer questions and arrange consultations at booth #3F43.

To register for the show, please visit https://www.logisticsautomationmadrid.com/en/

About Kivnon:

Kivnon offers a wide range of autonomous vehicles (AGVs/AMRs) and accessories for transporting goods, using magnetic navigation or mapping technologies that adapt to any environment and industry. The company offers an integrated solution with a wide range of mobile robotics solutions automating different applications within the automotive, food and beverage, logistics and warehousing, manufacturing, and aeronautics industries. 

Kivnon products are characterized by their robustness, safety, precision, and high quality. A user-friendly design philosophy creates a pleasant, simple to install, and intuitive work experience.

Learn more about Kivnon mobile robots (AGVs/AMRs) here

Austin-based Apptronik Inks Partnership with NASA for Humanoid Robots

AUSTIN, TEXAS (PRWEB) SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

Apptronik, an Austin-based company specializing in the development of versatile, mobile robotic systems, is announcing a partnership with NASA to accelerate commercialization of its new humanoid robot. The robot, called Apollo, will be one of the first humanoids available to the commercial markets.

At Apptronik’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, the first prototype of Apollo is now complete, with the expectation of broader commercial availability in 2023. Unlike special-purpose robots that are only capable of a single, repetitive task, Apollo is designed as a general-purpose robot capable of doing a wide range of tasks in dynamic environments. Apollo will benefit workers in industries ranging from logistics, retail, hospitality, aerospace and beyond.

NASA is known across the globe for its contributions to the advancement of robotics technology. NASA first partnered with Apptronik in 2013 during the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), where founders were selected to work on NASA’s Valkyrie Robot. The government agency has now selected Apptronik as a commercial partner to launch a new generation of general-purpose robots, starting with Apollo.

“Continued investment from NASA validates the work we are doing at Apptronik and the inflection point we have reached in robotics. The robots we’ve all dreamed about are now here and ready to get out into the world,” said Jeff Cardenas, CEO and co-founder of Apptronik. “These robots will first become tools for us here on Earth, and will ultimately help us move beyond and explore the stars.”

In addition to its work with NASA, Apptronik’s team has partnered with leading automotive OEMs, major transportation and logistics companies, and government agencies. Boasting notable names including Dr. Nicholas Paine, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Apptronik and Dr. Luis Sentis, Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor, its team is respected as among the best in the world. A growing hub for robotics, the Austin-based company continues to recruit top talent looking to bring their innovations to market now.

Apptronik is recognized for its emphasis on human-centered design, building beautifully designed and user-friendly robotic systems. As part of this commitment, it selected premier design firm argodesign as its partner in designing Apollo with the goal of creating robots capable of working alongside humans in our most critical industries. The team’s focus now is to scale Apollo so that it can be customer-ready in 2023.

About Apptronik:
Apptronik is a robotics company that has built a platform to deliver a variety of general-purpose robots. The company was founded in 2016 out of the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, with a mission to leverage innovative technology for the betterment of society. Its goal is to introduce the next generation of robots that will change the way people live and work, while tackling some of our world’s largest challenges. To learn more about careers at Apptronik, visit https://apptronik.com/careers/.

Robotersteuerung schnell und einfach in der Cloud programmiert –

Synapticon macht MOTORCORTEX als Online-Version verfügbar

Böblingen, den 04.08.2022 – Auch in der Welt des Maschinenbaus und der Robotik hat sich Software in den vergangenen Jahren zum entscheidenden Erfolgsfaktor entwickelt. Sowohl die Art und Weise wie Robotersteuerungen entwickelt werden als auch ihre Leistungsfähigkeit in der Praxis sind für die Hersteller von Industrierobotern von großer Bedeutung. Vor diesem Hintergrund hat Synapticon mit MOTORCORTEX.io nun eine bahnbrechende Lösung im SaaS (Software as a Service) Modell vorgestellt. Sie ermöglicht es sehr leistungsfähige, 100% individuelle Robotersteuerungen komfortabel in der Cloud zu entwickeln, auf Steuerungen im Feld bereitzustellen und über einen digitalen Zwilling zu testen. In der Serienproduktion des Roboters bzw. Automatisierungsprodukts kann die individuelle Steuerungs-Software dann in Masse bereitgestellt und auch offline betrieben werden. Dafür können neben Industrie-PCs auch Embedded-Module bis hin zu einem Raspberry Pi eingesetzt werden.

„Die Automatisierung hat in den vergangenen Jahren nochmals deutlich an Fahrt aufgenommen. Tragende Elemente sind dabei unter anderem fahrerlose Transportsysteme (AGV/AMR) sowie Cobots und Leichtbauroboter. Diese Systeme stellen nicht nur neue Herausforderungen an die Hardware, sondern auch an die Software, speziell wenn es um Themen wie Navigation, Sicherheit und das Erlernen von Abläufen geht“, erklärt Nikolai Ensslen, CEO und Gründer von Synapticon. „Die große Herausforderung ist nun für viele Hersteller: Sie müssen ihren Kunden Lösungen anbieten, die preislich attraktiv und immer auf dem neuesten Stand der Technik sind. Die Unternehmen sollen also in der Lage sein, individuelle Steuerungssoftware für ihre Systeme schnell und kosteneffizient zu entwickeln. Hierfür haben wir mit MOTORCORTEX nun eine Lösung im Angebot, die am Markt einmalig ist und welche die Entwicklungszeit von Robotersteuerungen drastisch verkürzt.“

Echtzeit-Steuerungsanwendungen in der Cloud erstellen und auf Offline-Steuerungen deployen sowie aus der Ferne warten

MOTORCORTEX umfasst ein ganzes Paket an Apps bzw. Templates und Tools zum Entwerfen, Steuern, Analysieren und Bereitstellen von industriellen Automatisierungsanwendungen. Dazu gehört beispielsweise auch ein Widget für die einfache grafische Programmierung (“no code”) von Robotern, was im Bereich der Cobots zum Standard wird. Die Plattform für individuelle Roboter- und Maschinensteuerungen ist mit modernster Softwaretechnologie implementiert, erfüllt alle Anforderungen der Automation der Zukunft und ist zugleich hoch leistungsfähig und skalierbar.

Das integrierte Linux-basierte und ressourcenoptimierte Betriebssystem bietet Echtzeitsteuerung von industrieller Hardware über EtherCAT, wie z.B. auf Synapticon SOMANET basierende Antriebsachsen und eine sehr leistungsstarke Kommunikationsschicht für Anwendungen auf höherer Ebene, wie z. B. eine Benutzeroberfläche oder Datenanalysetools. MOTORCORTEX ermöglicht Hochgeschwindigkeits-Streaming-Kommunikation direkt zum Webbrowser ohne Zwischenserver, was in der Industrie eine Wende darstellt. Es ist jetzt möglich, reaktionsschnelle Webanwendungen für eine extrem reibungslose Interaktion mit Maschinen zu erstellen. Die Lösung bietet offene APIs für alle wichtigen Programmiersprachen wie Javascript, Python und C++. Diese offene Architektur bietet viel mehr Freiheiten als aktuelle industrielle Steuerungssysteme und ermöglicht echte Industrie 4.0-Anwendungen mit nur wenigen Codezeilen. Die Kommunikation mit umgebenden bzw. höher liegenden Steuerungseinheiten wird über OPC UA unterstützt.

„Die Nutzung von MOTORCORTEX ist so einfach wie das Einrichten einer einfachen Webseite. Mit etwas Konfigurationsarbeit und ein paar Zeilen Code können sich Entwickler von jedem Webbrowser aus direkt und sicher mit ihrer Maschine verbinden und schnell Daten austauschen. Kein anderes industrielles Steuerungssystem ist so einfach und flexibel für anspruchsvolle und moderne Steuerungsaufgaben einzurichten“, erklärt Nikolai Ensslen. „Anwendungen, die auf MOTORCORTEX basieren, teilen alle ihre Daten automatisch in der darunterliegenden Echtzeitdatenbank, so dass externe Anwendungen oder Dienste einfach und sicher auf die Daten zugreifen können.“

Entwicklung beschleunigt, Kosten gesenkt

Erste Projekte mit Kunden zeigen, dass es Entwicklern mit MOTORCORTEX in der Cloud gelingt, den Entwicklungsprozess von Software um bis zu 90% zu reduzieren. Zugleich sinken tatsächlich die Kosten für die Softwareentwicklung deutlich, da MOTORCORTEX auf ein einfaches Lizenzmodell ohne zusätzliche Kosten für Wartung und Weiterentwicklung setzt. Da MOTORCORTEX zudem vollkommen Hardware-unabhängig ist, bleibt es den Entwicklern freigestellt, welche Hardware-Komponenten sie für die Entwicklung ihrer Steuerungssoftware nutzen. Ideale Resultate und höchste Effizienz verspricht dabei die Kombination der MOTORCORTEX-Software mit den SOMANET-Servoantrieben aus dem Motion Control-Portfolio von Synapticon.

MOTORCORTEX hat nicht den Anspruch, der eigenen Softwareentwicklung von Roboterherstellern oder innovativen Steuerungslösungen von Drittanbietern, etwa zum einfachen Teachen von Robotern oder für die Integration von Bildverarbeitung und KI, zuvor zu kommen bzw. diese zu ersetzen. Die Plattform soll vielmehr als solide Grundlage für diese dienen und die Entwickler in der Basis entlasten.

„MOTORCORTEX versteht sich, ebenso wie die SOMANET-Elektroniken, als im Endprodukt versteckte Infrastruktur. Sie soll ein leistungsfähiges, zuverlässiges Fundament für die modernsten und innovativsten Robotersteuerungen zur Verfügung stellen. Wir sehen uns als Technologie- und Infrastrukturpartner der besten Innovatoren in Robotik und Automation,” fasst Nikolai Ensslen zusammen. „Ich bin mir sicher, dass wie in vielen anderen Industriebereichen zukünftig Software auch in der Robotik zu einem wesentlichen und kritischen Unterscheidungsmerkmal wird. Mit MOTORCORTEX geben wir Unternehmen hierfür die beste Plattform in die Hand, so dass diese sich auf die relevanten Innovationen für Ihre Kunden und die Differenzierung von ihrem Wettbewerb konzentrieren können.“

Mehr Informationen unter www.synapticon.com

Kickstarter Campaign Announced for RoboDriveWheel: The fully integrated wheel for mobile robots

NAPLES, ITALY — S4E Robotics is pleased to announce the launch of a Kickstarter campaign that will allow the public to meet RoboDriveWheel: the fully integrated wheel for mobile robots. RoboDriveWheel is a new fully integrated motorized wheel designed specifically for the development of a new generation of safe and versatile service mobile robots. 

“We believe RoboDriveWheel can help all robotics designers but also enthusiast and hobbyist to create powerful and smart mobile robots with little effort and reducing cost and time” says Andrea Fontanelli inventor of RoboDriveWheel. “This Kickstarter campaign, to rise 43359€, will help us optimize the production process, manufacture our units and finalize our packaging components”. 

RoboDroveWheel integrates Inside a Continental rubber with strong adhesion a powerful brushless motor, a high-efficiency planetary gearbox and a control board implementing state-of-the-art algorithms for torque and velocity control. Robodrivewheel can also detect impacts and collisions thanks to the combined use of torque, acceleration and inclination measurement obtained from the sensors integrated into the control board. 

“RoboDriveWheel is the ideal solution for anyone who wants to build a mobile robot with little effort but which integrates the most modern technologies.” says Roberto Iorio CFO of S4E Robotics. RoboDriveWheel is being produced by S4E Robotics, a company that specialised in industrial automation and robotics. They have designed and produced mobile robots such as ENDRIU: The compact and modular mobile robot for sanitization. The process of designing mobile service robots is highly time-consuming. A service robotic drive wheel must be compact, have good traction friction, must be powerful but fast enough to move the robot at a speed comparable to human speed. 

Moreover, a robotic wheel must include all the functionalities, sensors, and electronics. Finally, a service robot must work close to humans so the robot should be capable to identify efficiently the interaction with the environment. Usually, all these capabilities require different components: the wheel, the shaft, one or more bearings with the housing, a traction system (pulley and belt), a motor with a reducer and encoder an IMU and the electronics with several cables for all the sensors. 

RoboDriveWheel integrates all these functions inside the wheel and it is easy to connect and control through the single cable for power supply and can-bus communication, a protocol used for years in the automotive sector. 
To learn more about Kickstarter and supporting RoboDriveWheel’s 43359€ campaign, please visit
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andreafontanelli/robodrivewheel

See RoboDriveWheel in action in our promoting video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4SOgimqY6U 

Alltagshelfer der Zukunft: igus beschleunigt humanoide Robotik mit Low Cost Automation

Auf der Hannover Messe 2022 stellt igus den ersten Prototypen eines humanoiden Low Cost Roboters vor

Köln, 27. Mai 2022 – Mensch, Maschine – oder beides? Humanoide Roboter sind längst nicht mehr nur Science-Fiction, sondern Realität. Auch igus forscht bereits seit einiger Zeit an humanoider Robotik und stellt nun auf der Hannover Messe einen Prototypen des motion plastics bot vor: ein humanoider Roboter, der die Vorteile von Hochleistungskunststoffen und Low Cost Automation vereint.

Roboter sind aus unserem Alltag nicht mehr wegzudenken. Spätestens seit dem Wandel zur Industrie 4.0 werden immer mehr Aufgaben automatisiert – und davon profitieren auch neue Formen der Robotik. Doch Roboter können nicht nur in der Industrie, sondern auch im Alltag für Erleichterung sorgen. Ein Humanoid, der nicht nur funktionell, sondern auch freundlich ist und menschliche Züge trägt, kann den Menschen nicht als Maschine, sondern als Partner begleiten. In der Forschung und Entwicklung von humanoider Robotik gibt es stetig Fortschritte. Zum Beispiel bei einem Forschungsteam der TU Chemnitz, das eine E-Skin entwickelt – eine berührungsempfindliche elektronische Haut, die humanoide Roboter noch menschenähnlicher machen könnte. Immer getrieben von der Frage, in welche Richtung sich die Robotik weiterentwickeln kann, arbeitet auch igus seit einiger Zeit an der eigenen Vision eines humanoiden Roboters – dem motion plastics bot. „Mit dem igus ReBeL und unserem drytech Angebot waren bereits passende Komponenten vorhanden, um Bewegung in einen Roboter zu bringen. Der humanoide Roboter ist ein gemeinsames Projekt mit den Robotik-Experten des Stuttgarter Start-ups TruPhysics, das den intelligenten Humanoiden aus unseren motion plastics sowie weiteren Komponenten zusammengebaut hat. Dort ist er unter dem Namen Robert M3 erhältlich”, erklärt Alexander Mühlens, Leiter Geschäftsbereich Automatisierungstechnik und Robotik bei igus. „Mit dem Bot wollen wir das Zusammenspiel von unseren Produkten aus Hochleistungskunststoffen und integrierter Intelligenz aufzeigen – und das zu einem erschwinglichen Preis.“

Leichter und wartungsfreier Low Cost Humanoid

Für eine lange und störungsfreie Laufzeit ohne Wartung bieten die Tribo-Polymere von igus im motion plastics bot einen klaren Vorteil: Schmiermittelfreiheit. Gleichzeitig ermöglichen die Hochleistungskunststoffe eine leichte Bauweise. Durch ihren Einsatz bringt der motion plastics bot bei einer Höhe von bis zu 2,70 Meter lediglich 78 Kilogramm auf die Waage. Seine Spannweite beträgt 1,50 Meter. Der motion plastics bot verfügt über ein selbstfahrendes AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle), einen teleskopierbaren Körper sowie einen Kopf mit integriertem Bildschirm und Avatar für eine interaktive Kommunikation. Zentraler Bestandteil ist auch der igus ReBeL, ein Serviceroboter mit Cobot-Fähigkeiten, der als Arme des Bots zum Einsatz kommt. Das Herzstück des ReBeLs sind die vollintegrierten Tribo-Wellgetriebe aus Kunststoff mit Motor, Absolutwert-Encoder, Kraftregelung und Controller. Der motion plastics bot bewegt sich in Schrittgeschwindigkeit und verfügt über eine Traglast von 2 Kilogramm pro Arm. Angesteuert wird er als Open Source-Lösung über das Robot Operating System (ROS). Denn das gesamte Low Cost Automation-Angebot von igus lässt sich in ROS abbilden. Mit der Studie zum motion plastics bot vereint igus die Vorteile seiner Hochleistungskunststoffe für die Bewegung und sein Know-how im Bereich Low Cost Automation, um die Entwicklung der nächsten Robotergeneration weiter voranzutreiben.

Lebenslanger Begleiter statt nur Maschine

„Wir sehen viel Potenzial im Einsatz von humanoiden Robotern. Doch unsere Welt ist von Menschen für Menschen gebaut. Statt nur einzelne Automatisierungsteile zu nutzen, ist es daher sinnvoll an Humanoiden und Androiden zu forschen. Die Frage ist, wann ist der Markt soweit?“, macht Alexander Mühlens deutlich. Menschenähnliche Roboter können sowohl gefährliche als auch einfache und monotone Aufgaben übernehmen.Im beruflichen Umfeld können Arbeiten erledigt werden, die über ein bloßes Pick & Place, wie es Roboterarme verrichten, hinausgehen. Im Haushaltsbereich kann ein Bot mehrere Roboter ersetzen: Er könnte selbstständig staubsaugen, Rasen mähen, Einkäufe erledigen, kochen, Wäsche waschen und darüber hinaus alle möglichen Aufgaben erledigen – selbst die Pflege von kranken Menschen. Somit wäre er nicht nur eine Maschine, sondern ein Begleiter, der für eine Menschenleben lange Erleichterung sorgen könnte. „Der Einsatz eines solchen Roboters ist bisher noch mit hohen Kosten verbunden, berücksichtigt man jedoch die mögliche Lebensdauer, würde sich der Einsatz längerfristig amortisieren”, sagt Mühlens. „Unser Ziel ist es, mit motion plastics Komponenten kostengünstige und einfache Lösungen für humanoide Robotik aufzuzeigen.”

Teledyne FLIR Introduces Hadron 640R Dual Thermal-Visible Camera for Unmanned Systems

GOLETA, Calif. and ORLANDO, Fla. ― Teledyne FLIR, part of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, today announced the release of its high-performance Hadron 640R combined radiometric thermal and visible dual camera module. The Hadron 640R design is optimized for integration into unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), robotic platforms, and emerging AI-ready applications where battery life and run time are mission critical.

The 640 x 512 resolution Boson longwave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera inside the Hadron 640R can see through total darkness, smoke, most fog, glare, and provide temperature measurements for every pixel in the scene. The addition of the high definition 64 MP visible camera enables the Hadron 640R to provide both thermal and visible imagery compatible with today’s on-device processors for AI and machine-learning applications at the edge.

“The Hadron 640R provides integrators the opportunity to deploy a high-performance dual-camera module into a variety of unmanned form factors from UAS to UGV thanks to its incredibly small size, weight, and power requirement,” said Michael Walters, vice president product management, Teledyne FLIR. “It is designed to maximize efficiency and its IP-54 rating protects the module from intrusion of dust and water from the outside environment.”

The Hadron 640R reduces development costs and time-to-market for integrators and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) product developers by offering a complete system through a single supplier, Teledyne FLIR. This includes offering drivers for market-leading processors from NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and more, plus industry-leading integration support and service from a support team of experts. It also offers flexible 60 Hz video output via USB or MIPI compatibility. Hadron 640R is a dual use product and is classified under US Department of Commerce jurisdiction.

The Teledyne FLIR Hadron 640R is available for purchase globally from Teledyne FLIR and its authorized dealers. To learn more or to purchase, visit www.flir.com/hadron640r.

For an exclusive in-person first look at the Hadron 640R, please visit booth #2107 at AUVSI Xponential, April 26-28, 2022, in Orlando, Florida.

About Teledyne FLIR
Teledyne FLIR, a Teledyne Technologies company, is a world leader in intelligent sensing solutions for defense and industrial applications with approximately 4,000 employees worldwide. Founded in 1978, the company creates advanced technologies to help professionals make better, faster decisions that save lives and livelihoods. For more information, please visit www.teledyneflir.com or follow @flir.

About Teledyne Technologies
Teledyne Technologies is a leading provider of sophisticated digital imaging products and software, instrumentation, aerospace and defense electronics, and engineered systems. Teledyne’s operations are primarily located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Western and Northern Europe. For more information, visit Teledyne’s website at www.teledyne.com.

Starship Launches Grocery Delivery Service in Bay Area

On-demand robot delivery now available in Pleasanton, CA at Lucky California flagship store

SAN FRANCISCO (February, 2022)  Starship Technologies, the world’s leading provider of autonomous delivery services, is now delivering groceries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Starship is expanding its partnership with The Save Mart Companies for the exclusive launch of an on-demand grocery delivery service at its Lucky California flagship store in Pleasanton, CA. Lucky is the first grocery store in the San Francisco Bay Area to partner with Starship. 

Starship and The Save Mart Companies first partnered in September 2020, when the Save Mart flagship store in Modesto became the first grocery store in the U.S. to offer Starship robot delivery service. Since its launch, that store has expanded its delivery area to serve over 55,000 households. In Pleasanton, the service is launching to thousands of residents, with the delivery area expected to grow rapidly in the coming months, similar to Modesto. 

“We are very pleased to bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to Pleasanton, in partnership with Lucky California,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP of Sales and Business Development at Starship Technologies. “Since launching our service in Modesto in 2020, we’ve been excited to see the extremely positive reaction to the robots and how they were embraced as part of the local community. We think the residents of Pleasanton will appreciate the convenience and positive environmental impact of autonomous delivery and we fully expect the service area to quickly expand to more households.”

The robots, each of which can carry up to 20 pounds of groceries – the equivalent of about three shopping bags – provide a convenient, energy-efficient, and low-cost delivery alternative to driving to the Lucky California store, allowing shoppers to browse thousands of items via the secure Starship app for on-demand delivery straight to their home.

The robots travel autonomously – crossing streets, climbing curbs and traversing sidewalks – to provide on-demand delivery to shoppers. They often become local celebrities as community members share their robot selfies and “love notes” on social media. 

“Since the debut of our contactless delivery service at the Save Mart flagship store, feedback from the Modesto community has been incredibly positive,” said Barbara Walker, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for The Save Mart Companies. “We are thrilled to expand this service to Lucky California in Pleasanton and offer a safe and efficient grocery delivery solution, along with some joyful entertainment, especially as the service area progressively expands over time..”

The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, customers choose from a range of their favorite groceries and drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. When an order is submitted, Lucky California team members gather the delivery items and carefully place them in a clean robot. Every robot’s interior and exterior is sanitized before each order. The customer can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app.

Starship already offers its services in many parts of the EU, UK and the US in cities, university campuses and industrial campuses, with further expansion planned in the near future. Starship is able to do L4 deliveries everywhere it operates – entire cities and campuses. The robots have been operating at L4 since 2018. On a daily basis Starship robots will complete numerous deliveries in a row 100% autonomously, including road crossings. This is why the cost of a Starship delivery is now lower than the human equivalent, which is believed to be a world first for any robot delivery company, whereas most others are still majority human controlled and in pilot mode.

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its zero-emission robots make more than 100,000 road crossings every day and have completed more than 2.5 million commercial deliveries and travelled more than 3 million miles (5 million+ kms) globally, more than any other autonomous delivery provider.

Picked up and put off

Guest post by IDS Corporate Communications

Autonomously driving robotic assistance system for the automated placement of coil creels

Due to the industry standard 4.0, digitalisation, automation and networking of systems and facilities are becoming the predominant topics in production and thus also in logistics. Industry 4.0 pursues the increasing optimisation of processes and workflows in favour of productivity and flexibility and thus the saving of time and costs. Robotic systems have become the driving force for automating processes. Through the Internet of Things (IoT), robots are becoming increasingly sensitive, autonomous, mobile and easier to operate. More and more they are becoming an everyday helper in factories and warehouses. Intelligent imaging techniques are playing an increasingly important role in this.

To meet the growing demands in scaling and changing production environments towards fully automated and intelligently networked production, the company ONTEC Automation GmbH from Naila in Bavaria has developed an autonomously driving robotic assistance system. The “Smart Robot Assistant” uses the synergies of mobility and automation: it consists of a powerful and efficient intralogistics platform, a flexible robot arm and a robust 3D stereo camera system from the Ensenso N series by IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH.

The solution is versatile and takes over monotonous, weighty set-up and placement tasks, for example. The autonomous transport system is suitable for floor-level lifting of Euro pallets up to container or industrial format as well as mesh pallets in various sizes with a maximum load of up to 1,200 kilograms. For a customer in the textile industry, the AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) is used for the automated loading of coil creels. For this purpose, it picks up pallets with yarn spools, transports them to the designated creel and loads it for further processing. Using a specially developed gripper system, up to 1000 yarn packages per 8-hour shift are picked up and pushed onto a mandrel of the creel. The sizing scheme and the position of the coils are captured by an Ensenso 3D camera (N45 series) installed on the gripper arm.

Application

Pallets loaded with industrial yarn spools are picked up from the floor of a predefined storage place and transported to the creel location. There, the gripper positions itself vertically above the pallet. An image trigger is sent to the Ensenso 3D camera from the N45 series, triggered by the in-house software ONTEC SPSComm. It networks with the vehicle’s PLC and can thus read out and pass on data. In the application, SPSComm controls the communication between the software parts of the vehicle, gripper and camera. This way, the camera knows when the vehicle and the grabber are in position to take a picture. This takes an image and passes on a point cloud to a software solution from ONTEC based on the standard HALCON software, which reports the coordinates of the coils on the pallet to the robot. The robot can then accurately pick up the coils and process them further. As soon as the gripper has cleared a layer of the yarn spools, the Ensenso camera takes a picture of the packaging material lying between the yarn spools and provides point clouds of this as well. These point clouds are processed similarly to provide the robot with the information with which a needle gripper removes the intermediate layers. “This approach means that the number of layers and finishing patterns of the pallets do not have to be defined in advance and even incomplete pallets can be processed without any problems,” explains Tim Böckel, software developer at ONTEC. “The gripper does not have to be converted for the use of the needle gripper. For this application, it has a normal gripping component for the coils and a needle gripping component for the intermediate layers.”

For this task, the mobile use for 3D acquisition of moving and static objects on the robot arm, the Ensenso 3D camera is suitable due to its compact design. The Ensenso N 45’s 3D stereo electronics are completely decoupled from the housing, allowing the use of a lightweight plastic composite as the housing material. The low weight facilitates the use on robot arms such as the Smart Robotic Asstistant. The camera can also cope with demanding environmental conditions. “Challenges with this application can be found primarily in the different lighting conditions that are evident in different rooms of the hall and at different times of the day,” Tim Böckel describes the situation. Even in difficult lighting conditions, the integrated projector projects a high-contrast texture onto the object to be imaged by means of a pattern mask with a random dot pattern, thus supplementing the structures on featureless homogenous surfaces. This means that the integrated camera meets the requirements exactly. “By pre-configuring within NxView, the task was solved well.” This sample programme with source code demonstrates the main functions of the NxLib library, which can be used to open one or more stereo and colour cameras whose image and depth data are visualised. Parameters such as exposure time, binning, AOI and depth measuring range can – as in this case – be adjusted live for the matching method used.

The matching process empowers the Ensenso 3D camera to recognise a very high number of pixels, including their position change, by means of the auxiliary structures projected onto the surface and to create complete, homogeneous depth information of the scene from this. This in turn ensures the necessary precision with which the Smart Robot Assistant proceeds. Other selection criteria for the camera were, among others, the standard vision interface Gigabit Ethernet and the global shutter 1.3 MP sensor. “The camera only takes one image pair of the entire pallet in favour of a faster throughput time, but it has to provide the coordinates from a relatively large distance with an accuracy in the millimetre range to enable the robot arm to grip precisely,” explains Matthias Hofmann, IT specialist for application development at ONTEC. “We therefore need the high resolution of the camera to be able to safely record the edges of the coils with the 3D camera.” The localisation of the edges is important in order to be able to pass on as accurate as possible the position from the centre of the spool to the gripper.

Furthermore, the camera is specially designed for use in harsh environmental conditions. It has a screwable GPIO connector for trigger and flash and is IP65/67 protected against dirt, dust, splash water or cleaning agents.

Software

The Ensenso SDK enables hand-eye calibration of the camera to the robot arm, allowing easy translation or displacement of coordinates using the robot pose. In addition, by using the internal camera settings, a “FileCam” of the current situation is recorded at each pass, i.e. at each image trigger. This makes it possible to easily adjust any edge cases later on, in this application for example unexpected lighting conditions, obstacles in the image or also an unexpected positioning of the coils in the image. The Ensenso SDK also allows the internal camera LOG files to be stored and archived for possible evaluation.

ONTEC also uses these “FileCams” to automatically check test cases and thus ensure the correct functioning of all arrangements when making adjustments to the vision software. In addition, various vehicles can be coordinated and logistical bottlenecks minimised on the basis of the control system specially developed by ONTEC. Different assistants can be navigated and act simultaneously in a very confined space. By using the industrial interface tool ONTEC SPSComm, even standard industrial robots can be safely integrated into the overall application and data can be exchanged between the different systems.

Outlook

Further development of the system is planned, among other things, in terms of navigation of the autonomous vehicle. “With regard to vehicle navigation for our AGV, the use of IDS cameras is very interesting. We are currently evaluating the use of the new Ensenso S series to enable the vehicle to react even more flexibly to obstacles, for example, classify them and possibly even drive around them,” says Tim Böckel, software developer at ONTEC, outlining the next development step.

ONTEC’s own interface configuration already enables the system to be integrated into a wide variety of Industry 4.0 applications, while the modular structure of the autonomously moving robot solution leaves room for adaptation to a wide variety of tasks. In this way, it not only serves to increase efficiency and flexibility in production and logistics, but in many places also literally contributes to relieving the workload of employees.

More at: https://en.ids-imaging.com/casestudies-detail/picked-up-and-put-off-ensenso.html

The Evolution of Robo-Dogs

Sophie writes on behalf of Panda Security covering cybersecurity and online safety best practices for consumers and families. Specifically, she is interested in removing the barriers of complicated cybersecurity topics and teaching data security in a way that is accessible to all. Her most recent piece is on the evolution of robotic dogs and where they're headed next.

Robots have been a point of fascination and study for centuries as researchers and inventors have sought to explore the potential for automated technology. While there’s a long history of the development and creation of autonomous machines, mobile, quadrupedal robots — or four-legged robotic dogs — have seen a significant boom in the last few decades. 

The development of quadrupedal robots stems from the necessity of mobile robots in exploring dangerous or unstructured terrains. Compared to other mobile robots (like wheeled or bipedal/two-legged robots), quadrupedal robots are a superior locomotion system in terms of stability, control and speed.

The capabilities of quadrupedal robots are being explored in a variety of fields, from construction and entertainment to space exploration and military operations. Today, modern robotic dogs can be purchased by businesses and developers to complete tasks and explore environments deemed too dangerous for humans. Read on for the evolution of robotic dogs and where they might be headed in the future. 

1966: Phony Pony

Although it technically mirrored the form of a horse, the Phony Pony was the first autonomous quadrupedal robot to emerge in the U.S. that set the precedent for robotic dogs of the future. Equipped with electrical motors, the Pony Pony had two degrees of freedom, or joints, in each leg (the hip and the knee) and one adaptive joint in the frontal plane. The hip and knee joints were identical, allowing for both forward and backward walking movements. 

The Phony Pony was capable of crawling, walking and trotting, albeit at a very slow speed. Thanks to its spring-restrained “pelvic” structure, it was able to maintain static vertical stability during movement. Since the Phony Pony was developed before the advent of microprocessors, it could only be controlled through cables connected to a remote computer in an adjacent building.  

Developer: Frank and McGhee

Use: Initial research and development of autonomous quadrupeds 

1999: AIBO

In the late 1990s, Sony’s AIBO  — one of the most iconic and advanced entertainment robotic dogs — hit the market. While the AIBO (Artificial Intelligence RoBOt) was constructed for entertainment purposes, its machinery is still highly complex. 

Developed with touch, hearing, sight and balancing capabilities, it can respond to voice commands, shake hands, walk and chase a ball. It can also express six “emotions”: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, dislike and surprise. Its emotional state is expressed through tail wagging, eye color changes and body movements, as well as through a series of sounds including barks, whines and growls. Today, the AIBO has been used across many research groups for the purpose of testing artificial intelligence and sensory integration techniques.

Developer: Sony

Use: Toys and entertainment

2005: BigDog

Boston Dynamics has become a leader in the world of robotics, specifically in their development of canine-inspired quadrupeds. Their first robotic dog, coined BigDog, arrived in 2005. Measuring three by two feet and weighing in at 240 pounds, BigDog was designed to support soldiers in the military. It can carry 340 pounds, climb up and down 35-degree inclines and successfully hike over rough terrains. 

Each of BigDog’s legs has a passive linear pneumatic compliance — a system that controls contact forces between a robot and a rigid environment — and three active joints in the knees and hips. The robot is powered by a one-cylinder go-kart engine, and its dynamic regulating system allows it to maintain balance. Its movement sensors embrace joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load and a stereo vision system. 

In 2012, developers were still working to refine BigDog’s capabilities before plans to officially deploy it to military squads. However, the project was discontinued in 2015 after concluding its gas-powered engine was too noisy to be used in combat. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in unsafe terrains 

2009: LittleDog 

Four years after BigDog came LittleDog, Boston Dynamics’ smallest quadrupedal robot to date. LittleDog was developed specifically for research purposes to be used by third parties investigating quadrupedal locomotion. 

Each of LittleDog’s legs are powered by three electric motors fueled by lithium polymer batteries and have a maximum operation time of thirty minutes. LittleDog maintains a large range of motion and is capable of climbing, crawling and walking across rocky terrains. A PC-level computer placed on top of LittleDog is responsible for its movement sensors, controls and communications. It can be controlled remotely and includes data-logging support for data analysis purposes. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Research on locomotion in quadrupeds 

2011: AlphaDog Proto

Continuing their efforts to develop military-grade robots, Boston Dynamics released AlphaDog Proto in 2011. Powered by a hydraulic actuation system, AlphaDog Proto is designed to support soldiers in carrying heavy gear across rocky terrains. It’s capable of carrying up to 400 pounds for as far as 20 miles, all within the span of 24 hours, without needing to refuel. 

AlphaDog Proto is equipped with a GPS navigation and computer vision system that allows it to follow soldiers while carrying their gear. Thanks to an internal combustion engine, AlphaDog Proto proved to be quieter than its predecessor BigDog, making it more suitable for field missions. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in carrying heavy gear over unsafe terrains

2012: Legged Squad Support System (LS3)

Boston Dynamics’ development of the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) came soon after the creation of BigDog in their efforts to continue refining their quadrupedal robots for soldiers and Marines. LS3 was capable of operating in hot, cold, wet and otherwise unfavorable conditions. It contained a stereo vision system with a pair of stereo cameras, which were mounted inside the robot’s head. This operated in conjunction with a light-detecting and ranging unit that allowed it to follow a soldier’s lead and record feedback obtained from the camera. 

Compared to BigDog, LS3 was around 10 times quieter at certain times and had an increased walking speed of one to three miles per hour, increased jogging speed of five miles per hour and the ability to run across flat surfaces at seven miles per hour. It was also capable of responding to ten voice commands, which was a more efficient function for soldiers who would be too preoccupied with a mission to use manual controls. 

Five years into development, LS3 had successfully been refined enough to be able to operate with Marines in a realistic combat exercise and was used to resupply combat squads in locations that were difficult for squad vehicles to reach. By 2015, however, the LS3 was shelved due to noise and repair limitations. While the Marines were ultimately unable to use the LS3 in service, it provided valuable research insights in the field of autonomous technology. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in carrying heavy gear over unsafe terrains

2016: Spot 

Spot is Boston Dynamics’ next creation in their line of quadrupedal robots, designed in an effort to move away from developing quadrupeds strictly for military use and instead move into more commercial use. Spot is significantly smaller than their previous models, weighing just 160 pounds. Spot is capable of exploring rocky terrains, avoiding objects in its path during travel and climbing stairs and hills. 

Spot’s hardware is equipped with powerful control boards and five sensor units on all sides of its body that allow it to navigate an area autonomously from any angle. Twelve custom motors power Spot’s legs, gaining speed of up to five feet per second and operating for up to 90 minutes. Its sensors are able to capture spherical images and also allow for mobile manipulation for tasks such as opening doors and grasping objects. Spot’s control methods are far more advanced than Boston Dynamics’ earlier robots, allowing for autonomous control in a wider variety of situations. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Documenting construction process and monitoring remote high-risk environments 

2016: ANYmal

While Boston Dynamics had been the main leader in quadrupedal robots since the early 2000s, Swiss robotics company ANYbotics came out with its own iteration of the robotic dog in 2016. Positioned as an end-to-end robotic inspection solution, ANYmal was developed for industrial use, specifically the inspection of unsafe environments like energy and industrial plants. 

ANYmal is mounted with a variety of laser inspection sensors to provide visual, thermal and acoustic readings. Equipped with an on-board camera, it’s capable of remote panning and tilting settings to adjust views of the inspection site. ANYmal is capable of autonomously perceiving its environment, planning its navigation path and selecting proper footholds during travel. It can even walk up stairs and fit into difficult-to-reach areas that traditional wheeled robots can’t.

ANYmal has undergone a handful of development iterations since 2016 and is available for purchase as of 2021. ANYbotics is currently working on an upgraded version of the robot suitable for potentially explosive environments. 

Developer: ETH Zurich and ANYbotics

Use: Remote inspection of unsafe environments

2021: Vision 60 

One of the latest developments in quadrupedal robots is Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 robotic dog, which has recently been tested at the U.S. Air Force’s Scott Air Force Base in Illinois as part of its one-year pilot testing program. Built to mitigate risks faced by Air Force pilots, Vision 60 features a rifle mounted on its back contained in a gun pod and is equipped with sensors that allow it to operate in a wide variety of unstable terrains. It’s also capable of thermal imaging, infrared configuration and high-definition video streaming. 

Vision 60 can carry a maximum of 31 pounds and can travel at up to 5.24 feet per second. It’s considered a semi-autonomous robot due to its accompanying rifle; while it can accurately line up with a target on its own, it can’t open fire without a human operator (in accordance with the U.S. military’s autonomous systems policy prohibiting automatic target engagement).

Developer: Ghost Robotics

Use: Military and Homeland Security operations

2021: CyberDog

With more companies embracing the development of quadrupeds, Xiaomi Global followed suit and released their version named CyberDog. CyberDog is an experimental, open-source robot promoted as both a human-friendly companion and an asset by law enforcement and military. CyberDog is sleeker and smaller than its other robotic dog predecessors, carrying a payload of just 6.6 pounds and running over 10 feet per second. 

CyberDog is equipped with multiple cameras and image sensors located across its body, including touch sensors and an ultra-wide fisheye lens. CyberDog can hold 128 gigabytes of storage and is powered by Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier AI platform to perform real-time analyses of its surroundings, create navigation paths, plot its destination and avoid obstacles. CyberDog can also perform backflips and respond to voice commands thanks to its six microphones. 

By making CyberDog an open-source project, Xiaomi hopes to expand its reach into the future of robot development and innovation. Its open-source nature is meant to encourage robotics enthusiasts to try their hand at writing code for CyberDog, giving the project more exposure and bolstering Xiaomi’s reputation in the robotics community. 

Developer: Xiaomi Global

Use: An open-source platform for developers to build upon 

While the market for quadrupedal robots is still in its early stages, interest is steadily growing in a wide range of industries. As for fears of robots pushing out the need for traditionally human-led jobs, these machines are more intended to support humans alongside their jobs rather than replace them outright. 

On the other hand, privacy concerns associated with robots aren’t to be ignored. As with any tech-enabled device, hacking is always possible, especially for open-source robotic models that can put users’ personal information at risk. This applies not only to the quadrupeds discussed above, but to more common commercial robotic systems like baby monitors, security systems and other WiFi-connected devices. It’s important to ensure your home network system is as strong and secure as possible with a home antivirus platform

Kickstarter Campaign for QBii the Multi-Function Robot

Supporters will be able to help donate robot kits to schools to support STEM education

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Nov 2021 – Quantum Robotic Systems Inc. (QRS) announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for QBii, an affordable, multi-functional and expandable service robot. 

QBii (pronounced “cue + bee”) is about the size of a shoebox and weighs only 9 lbs. While most other service robots are limited to only one function, QBii performs a host of useful tasks in the home and in the workplace, including 

  • Carrying heavy items like grocery bins or boxes (up to 50 lbs)
  • Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming floors
  • Towing carts with payloads (up to 200 lbs)

QBii is also programmable and customizable. “People have the option of purchasing QBii as a kit, which makes it a powerful resource for STEM educators,” says QRS president, Dr. Frank Naccarato. “In fact, supporters of our Kickstarter can contribute towards the donation of QBii Kits to schools.”

QBii’s Kickstarter campaign starts today and runs until December 5th. The campaign page may be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/qrsrobotics/qbiithemultifunctionservicerobot  

Founded in 2016 by Dr. Frank Naccarato, Quantum Robotic Systems Inc. (QRS) is a Toronto-based company that makes unique mobile autonomous robots. QRS has developed and patented a novel stairclimbing technology that allows users to carry heavy, bulky loads up and down stairs in an easier, faster and safer way. The company has incorporated this technology into its Robotic Stairclimbing Assistant (ROSA), a service robot that can carry things while climbing up and down stairs, and Doll-E, a stairclimbing moving cart capable of lifting 500 lbs.