Automation technologies aimed at streamlining material handling tasks have been on the rise in manufacturing settings and the logistics space for some time now. This is because companies looking to match supply to demand are increasingly faced with a double bind. On the one hand, labor shortages are reducing the availability of manual workers. On the other, swelling e-commerce sales and a growing demand for customized orders mean that, not only are there more products to be moved, but doing so is more complex than with traditional mass production processes.
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have proven a popular solution to these problems due to their flexibility and ease of deployment. Often seen as a replacement for the automated guided vehicles used to automate material handling tasks, mobile robots offer the advantage of being able to navigate complex environments without the need for permanent wire strips or magnetic tracks along the floor to guide their path. Foregoing fixed infrastructure means that upfront costs are lower, while also allowing for rapid reconfigurations to occur via software alone.
Amid this uptick in mobile robotics usage, AMR provider Geek+ has recently signed a North American strategic channel agreement with Bosch Rexroth to “facilitate resource sharing, deepen cooperation, and create more intelligent logistics solutions for their customers.”
The first product of the partnership is a new version of Geek+’s MP1000R AMR, which has been updated with Bosch Rexroth’s Rokit Locator software. The MP1000R is an AMR with a maximum payload capacity of 1,000 kg that supports laser-based simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM), QR code navigation, and other navigation methods. Rokit Locator is Bosch Rexroth’s software for determining the position and orientation of vehicles in changing environments. The software uses an algorithm capable of automatically detecting and mapping the natural environment based on input from a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system.
Bosch Rexroth is currently using MP1000R AMRs to distribute materials to production lines at its plant in Changzhou, China.