Editor’s Picks: greatest robots of ProMat 2023
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ProMat brings collectively a few of the world’s main manufacturing and provide chain tools suppliers. This 12 months’s present had 1,000-plus exhibitors, and as a first-time attendee, I had loads of robotic methods to find out about throughout my three days on the present.
Right here’s a recap, in no explicit order, of a few of the greatest robots at ProMat 2023.
Agility Robotics’ Digit
The Agility Robotics sales space was packed for many of the present, and for good purpose. It’s not each day you get the chance to see a bipedal robotic in motion. In accordance with Agility, Digit’s demo was primarily based on an actual buyer use case, and it was operating throughout all 4 days of the present. Digit was the winner of ProMat’s Greatest New Innovation Award.
Digit is the product of over twenty years of analysis and growth. Whereas the corporate could have began its journey by numerous use circumstances for a bipedal robotic, something from operating into burning buildings to last-mile supply, it honed its deal with automating a course of that must be addressed that Digit can safely and reliably carry out.
Digit at present solely works in enclosed areas away from people, and it’ll even shut down when human staff get too shut. The robotic will help scale back employee accidents from lifting or lacerations that may occur when human staff deal with damaged totes.
Agility is gearing as much as begin manufacturing Digit at scale, including it might work at a fee of $10/hour for duties just like the one it demoed at ProMat.
Boston Dynamics’ Stretch
Boston Dynamics confirmed off its Stretch case dealing with robotic on the present. Stretch confirmed off its trailer unloading talents flawlessly, though there wasn’t a lot variability within the packing containers it was working with.
Stretch is already deployed at buyer websites and has extra clients lined up. Boston Dynamics appears to have much more bold plans for the robotic sooner or later. At its sales space, it ran a video the place it confirmed animated Stretch robots zipping round a warehouse, constructing pallets on high of AMRs which convey these pallets to different Stretch robots that might load the packing containers right into a truck.
The corporate is being held again by security laws proper now, which maintain Stretch caged off and away from people, limiting it to simply its present unloading utility.
Pickle Robotic demoed the same container unloading system. It’s constructed round a modified Kuka arm and suction grippers to select up objects as much as 65 kilos and place them onto a conveyor. The onboard imaginative and prescient system determines which field to select subsequent. Once more, there wasn’t a lot selection within the form and measurement of the packing containers. Right here’s a side-by-side comparability of the Pickle and Boston Dynamics options:
RightHand Robotics’s RightPick
RightHand Robotics wasn’t the one firm displaying off bin-picking robots, however its demo was some of the constant and versatile. All the time I used to be at its sales space, and each time I visited it all through the present, RightPick didn’t miss a single choose.
RightHand additionally confirmed a brand new autonomous suction cup swapper. Built-in within the entrance of a demo workcell, the robotic arm can select from 4 totally different suction cups. On account of all the info RightHand has collected through the years, it is aware of which suction cup affords the very best likelihood at efficiently selecting an merchandise. When the system has low confidence in a suction cup’s means to know upcoming gadgets, it’s going to autonomously swap out for the suction cup that gives essentially the most confidence. RightPick’s grippers use a mix of suction and three mechanical fingers to offer the system additional stability in all of its picks.
Autopicker was introduced in February 2023, and it was thrilling to see it at work in individual for the primary time. Brightpick’s Autopicker strikes round warehouses, retrieving totes from shelving and robotically selecting gadgets from these totes to consolidate orders instantly in aisles. This course of removes the necessity for a human picker to take gadgets out of totes, a typical a part of many comparable robotic methods.
At ProMat, Autopicker was selecting snacks for attendees. On the present, it was solely pulling totes from one aspect of the robotic. However the model that may work in buyer warehouses can pull from each side, permitting it to roll between shelving and swap between pulling totes from behind or in entrance of the robotic.
Truck unloading was a well-liked demo at ProMat, and Mujin took a extra distinctive method to the method. In accordance with the corporate, the robotic can unload as much as 1,000 circumstances per hour.
TruckBot’s design goals to particularly tackle the challenges that come particularly with unloading floor-loaded trailers and containers. The robotic can connect to plain telescoping conveyors, that are discovered at many loading docks, and may attain as much as 52 toes right into a trailer truck or transport container.
At ProMat, TruckBot was working with Mujin’s palletizing robotic to kind circumstances onto pallets for storage.
Tuskrobots’ autonomous pallet handler
Autonomous forklifts had been one other widespread look on the present, however Tuskrobots had essentially the most distinctive method to shifting pallets. As an alternative of the everyday automated forklift design, Tuskrobots’ autonomous pallet handler slides two prongs beneath a pallet and makes use of the tongs to raise the pallet. The remainder of the AMR then slides beneath the pallet.
As soon as the pallet is on high of the AMR, it might probably drive to its subsequent location, the place it lifts it once more, slides out from beneath the pallet, lowers the pallet, after which slides its prongs again into the AMR. This distinctive technique of selecting up pallets means the robotic is simply barely bigger than its payload, permitting it to function in high-density storage areas.
Verve Movement’s SafeLift Go well with
Verve Movement spun out of Harvard in 2020 and affords an exosuit that goals to take 40% of the pressure off of staff throughout lifting. Whereas the exosuit can enhance productiveness by serving to staff maintain a constant tempo throughout their total shift, the firm’s purpose is to make workplaces safer for staff and to cut back on-the-job accidents.
Once we had been on the sales space, Dwelling Depot was demoing the system, repeatedly lifting a packed tote and case of water. The retailer stated they’ve staff who repeatedly raise masses as much as 75 lbs from the ground onto a pallet every day.
I had the chance to check out the exosuit myself. It took simply minutes to placed on and was simple to regulate. When selecting up and placing down a heavy tote, it provides a tug throughout the again that reduces the quantity of pressure your again has to do. The swimsuit at ProMat had three settings: impartial setting, lifting solely and lifting and placing down. Customers can swap between the modes by urgent a button close to their shoulder. These settings may be custom-made in response to a buyer’s want.
Slip Robotics AMR
Slip Robotics showcased its automated trailer loading/unloading system (ATLS). The omnidirectional robotic is designed to hold as much as 8 full pallets and a complete of 6 tons. It autonomously drives right into a tractor-trailer for transport to the following vacation spot. Three ATLS robots can match inside a typical tractor-trailer.
Fork truck operators don’t have to enter the trailer and as an alternative load and unload pallets onto the Slip ATLS within the open loading dock. The Slip ATLS travels with the load to the vacation spot, the place it drives off the trailer, onto the dock for unloading and loading. A loaded set of ATLS robots would then drive onto the trailer for instant departure. Slip stated its robots use a sealed lead acid battery that isn’t topic to federal hazmat restrictions for floor transport.