Vancouver, British Columbia-based Genesis Robotics, a spin-off from engineering firm Genesis Advanced Technology, is rolling out what is presented as a breakthrough innovation: The LiveDrive actuator is meant to disrupt existing actuation technologies widely used in robotics hardware, and eventually replace electric motors, gearboxes and drive belts, enabling exponential efficiency gains for existing solutions. More importantly, LiveDrive potentially opens up a completely new range of RIOS (Robotics & Intelligent Operational Systems) applications across vertical sectors.
- An ambitious vision supported by promising technology: Genesis Robotics’ ambition is second to none in the industry as they aim to create a technology capable of accelerating the maturity of the RIOS industry from “adolescent” to truly ubiquitous and mainstream. In the process, LiveDrive threatens to surpass and replace a vast majority of existing actuator (electric motors, gearboxes, drive belts, etc.) technologies on the market with its capabilities.
- Three-point focus: The company has focused on three main capabilities for LiveDrive that are integral to creating a groundbreaking actuator technology:
- Genesis has exceeded the torque-to-weight of any known direct drive motor by more than 3X, and ongoing development suggests that LiveDrive will even exceed the torque-to-weight of the top motor gearbox actuators.
- Built-in safety features, such as zero backlash, lower additional programming required.
- Reduced cost for the base manufacturing of the device deemed to undercut competitor pricing at anywhere from 25 to 50 percent, not mentioning additional cost cutting from integration and fine tuning.
- Vast applicability: The LiveDrive technology can either be in the form of a linear or circular device, which makes its integration particularly easy on top on removing the need for gearboxes or belts. This versatility has the potential to support a new array of robotics solution designs.
- Supporting RIOS market maturity: In an industry scenario update to be released by Myria Research, feedback compiled from a vast number of corporate decision-makers identifies the primary drivers behind the relatively low level of RIOS adoption among enterprise users to-date, including: Financial, Operational, and Organizational:
- Financial: LiveDrive’s simplicity of integration and versatility could support solutions providers in lowering end user costs, in particular, but not exclusively in highly specialized application areas (e.g. medical, military, precise manufacturing, etc.).
- Operational: While RIOS solutions often promise to simplify business processes or at least bundle in existing ones, they often fall short of fulfilling end user KPIs by actually slowing down, complicating or performing less reliably than older equipment or processes. LiveDrive could help providers mitigate these performance issues thanks to its robustness, speed and design versatility.
- Organizational: To deploy current RIOS solutions at scale today, enterprises must be prepared to address the transformation and coordination required between organizational functions and existing technology layers: skill and talent shortage is already a challenge for the enterprise. By enabling the simplification of certain critical requirements (maintenance, deployment, interoperability, etc.), LiveDrive could, in fact, remarkably reduce the skills and talent barriers to adoption.
As of today, the ratio “Adoption versus RIOS industry development” is at its early stage: from an adoption perspective, most solutions are designed for specific usage and therefore solving unique operational hurdles: RIOS providers have a tendency to develop solutions “doing something old better” rather than actually “doing something new.”
From an industry development standpoint, this translates into a quite fragmented industry and a screaming need for true RIOS leaders showing the way. And even if with some specific cases (robo-vacuum, industrial cobots, some logistics and warehousing solutions), a certain degree of standardization has started, none of these providers can really be considered industry leader.
Now looking at the overall RIOS industry maturation moving forward, LiveDrive could enable increased democratization on the adoption at scale by enabling a higher number of vertical sectors to be addressed by non-niche RIOS technology providers (simplified development of high-value solution being so far virtually unsolvable engineering challenges), thereby accelerating the creation of solutions viewed as “standard”, and becoming very close to empowering the right RIOS providers to claim industry leadership.
- LiveDrive Accelerating RIOS Adoption Across the Board: Most RIOS systems available are developed around a primary functionality (handling/holding materials, vacuuming, drilling, etc.) that can be enhanced at the expense of complicated reprogramming and adapting end effectors thus not drastically changing the overall value provided to the end-user while implying a non-negligible reprogramming and customization effort, and therefore a downtime not always compatible with business imperatives. LiveDrive brings close to “plug and play” capabilities when it comes to its integration, repurposing and the reprogramming of a system integrating LiveDrive, greatly reducing downtime and supporting business continuity.
- Existing RIOS buying criteria are on their way to obsolescence: A 2014-2015 study conducted by Myria Research on major criteria driving users to purchase industrial RIOS technologies demonstrated which of these could carry the highest level of corporate liability, thereby conveying scrutiny and slowing adoption at scale. As of 2017, the number of industrial RIOS providers has been growing and solutions are increasingly robust while relatively more affordable (especially via the availability of “cobot” solutions), these criteria and their importance didn’t change significantly.
However, out of 10 major selected criteria for 3 distinct industrial processes, LiveDrive would directly and positively impact 6 of them (in green), and indirectly 3 of them (in blue).
The importance of these criteria is highly likely to decrease in importance as LiveDrive gets integrated into a growing number of industrial solutions: as an example, “Operator Security/Safety” is a cause of concern from end-users of RIOS solutions because of the nature of the technologies used to build robots. But LiveDrive built-in safety features (e.g. no backlash) would virtually remove such concern, and therefore makes this criterion potentially obsolescent.
- Beyond industrial or other applications currently addressed by RIOS: LiveDrive, because of its design versatility, functionality and cost advantage, has the potential to impact the efficiency and design flexibility of current robotics solutions. In the future, these same competitive advantages mean that LiveDrive is poised to enable new, disruptive solutions to emerge in support of truly transforming industry practices rather than simply improving upon them.
Resources: Genesis Robotics corporate Portal – Portal
Editor’s Note: More to come on the Genesis Robotics’ LiveDrive in a full whitepaper and webcast to be released by the end of March 2017.