Waypoint Robotics Inc.
Crate on the dock to fully autonomous navigation in 15 minutes
While numerous vendors are chasing the warehousing and e-commerce markets for autonomous mobile robots, one innovative company is offering its own innovative AMRs for manufacturing and other applications.
The factory floor is a more challenging space that’s ripe for automation, said Waypoint Robotics Inc. CEO and co-founder Jason Walker. The company’s Vector AMRs can go from a crate on the dock to fully autonomous navigation in 15 minutes
Using robots to build robots
Waypoint Robotics‘ team can assemble 10 robots a day at its facility in Merrimack, N.H. This may not sound like a lot, but the company has arranged its layout so that it can use its own robots in the process.
“Our robots are integrated with our inventory and infrastructure — the same as our customers’ workflow,” said Walker. “They are the result of deliberate choices.”
Vector’s chassis and gearbox are made in New Hampshire, its wheels come from Indiana, and its batteries come from Texas. Vector’s omnidirectional wheels come out of research for the U.S. Navy.
“It can be challenging to work in complex, dynamic industrial environments with AMRs, but Vector is more precise as it approaches waypoints,” Walker explained. “It’s 10 times faster than differential robot wheels, which must edge toward a point.”
Waypoint also offers the CuffLink-RK for making Robotiq’s grippers plug and play with Kinova’s collaborative robot arms. What about mobile manipulation?
“Cobot arms really move only when the robot is stationary,” Walker noted. “This requires more power in the footprint, but safety ratings would have to include the payload and connected systems.”
“We’ll leave mobile manipulation to the researchers, but there are unrealistically high expectations,” he said. “We do provide the ports for attachments.”
AMRs with best-in-class navigation
To safely and swiftly move materials in manufacturing facilities, Vector needs to move autonomously in a dynamic environment.
“We’ve had several customers, who have done extensive tests on their own, come to us and say that our navigation is the best in the world,” Walker said. “This is a key differentiator for us.”
For navigation and safety, Vector Navigator Elite includes a Velodyne 3D lidar.
“With 2D lasers, you can only see the plane, so a lot of our customers opt to have 3D perception so they don’t have to worry about keep-out zones or if an employee left something,” Walker said. “Our customers can say ‘Go from Point A to Point B,’ even if there’s something in the way.”
Also, “with the EnZone modular power system, a user doesn’t have to worry about battery life,” he said. “The robot will go charge itself in downtime.”
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