It’s Robotics Awards Season: Firms Grab Honors for Advances
June 20, 2019      

It’s awards season for the robotics industry, or so it would seem. A number of robotics awards have been given out recently, highlighting advances in piece picking, UV disinfecting, and agriculture. Here’s a look at a few noteworthy wins, showcasing new and improved ways of incorporating robotics into practical everyday operations.

Berkshire Grey wins ABB robotics award

Berkshire Grey announced that it is the recipient of ABB Robotics’ “Most Innovative Solutions” Award. The award was announced at ABB Robotics’ 2019 Americas Value Provider Conference in Auburn Hills, Mich., in recognition of Berkshire Grey’s portfolio of solutions built around robotic item-level picking and placing for retail, e-commerce, and omnichannel order fulfillment.

Berkshire Grey robotic picking

A Berkshire Grey robot in action

“We at ABB Robotics applaud Berkshire Grey for their innovative use of industrial robotics and are pleased to recognize their accomplishments with our 2019 Most Innovative Solutions Award,” said Joe Chudy, U.S. General Manager, ABB Robotics. “Retail distribution, e-commerce fulfillment, and logistics operations are ripe for robotic automation, and the solutions Berkshire Grey has created to solve the order-picking challenges in these domains are at the forefront of this exciting new wave of robotic applications.”

Many of Berkshire Grey’s customer-deployed solutions incorporate ABB commercial industrial robots. Those robots are augmented with Berkshire Grey’s AI-enabled software, outfitted with gripping, sensing, and vision technology, and surrounded by engineered infrastructure to create complete solutions.

Berkshire Grey’s offerings automatically pick, pack and sort individual items, inner packs, cases, and parcels for e-commerce and store replenishment orders. The company said its technology achieves higher accuracy and throughput speeds than traditional approaches, while improving accuracy through machine learning.

“We are pleased to accept this award for innovation from ABB,” said Kevin Ahern, Berkshire Grey’s vice president of operations. “Our solution designs are robotic manipulator agnostic, but our technical teams often choose ABB arms for their precision and reliability. Our customers demand scalable, robust systems that must be fast, flexible, and accurate. ABB commercial industrial robots, driven by our software, help us pick real products at enterprise speed and scale in real production environments to meet customer demands.”

UV sanitizing robot wins for Blue Ocean Robotics

Blue Ocean Robotics‘ “UVD Robot” recently won the International Federation of Robotics (IFR)’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation (IERA). The collaborative robot autonomously drives around hospitals while emitting concentrated UV-C light to eliminate bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, guaranteeing hospitals a 99.99% disinfection rate.

Blue Ocean Robotics UV Disinfectant Robot

Source: Blue Ocean Robotics

“The UV disinfection robot by Blue Ocean Robotics shows that robotics has a limitless potential of being applied in new environments,” said Arturo Baroncelli, former President of the International Federation of Robotics, which co-sponsors the IERA award. “The combination of ‘classical’ mechatronic disciplines – typical of robotics – with the know-how of medicine and pharmacy is fantastic evidence of this path of progress. The IFR is happy to recognize and support this virtual trend.”

“We are incredibly proud of winning the IERA Award 2019 for a ground-breaking product,” said Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics. “Everyone can feel safe in rooms that have been disinfected by the robot. Our UVD Robot not only reduces the risk of patients contracting hospital-related infections, but also to a high extent visitors and hospital staff.” Blue Ocean Robotics is a Danish manufacturer of service robots for the healthcare, hospitality, construction and agricultural sector,s based in Odense. The UV disinfection robot is sold by its subsidiary, UVD Robots.

Infections acquired in hospitals cause significant costs in the healthcare sector: In Europe, these costs amount to €7 billion. The source of infections can be other patients or staff, and even equipment or the hospital environment. The UVD Robot drives around and positions itself autonomously in relation to its surroundings. The machine treats surfaces in a hospital ward with light from several angles and up close. The robot disinfects all contact surfaces, stopping at predefined hot spots that require a longer time of exposure. The UV disinfection robot does not replace the manual cleaning process – it is designed as a complementary activity, and always works in enclosed spaces.

New Zealand technology awards given to Robotics Plus

Robotics Plus, a maker of agricultural robots, has scooped two awards at New Zealand’s prestigious technology awards, the 2019 NZ Hi-Tech Awards. Robotics Plus’ robotic Āporo apple packer won the NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution, and the company was named the Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau – Māori Company of the Year.

The awards capped off a successful 12 months for Robotics Plus, which included the launch of its first commercial products and an investment of $8 million from Yamaha, to bring its total investment to $10 million.

Launched in May 2018, Robotics Plus’ award-winning robotic Āporo apple packers, identifies and safely place up to 120 apples per minute in display trays, and is already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the U.S.

Robotics Plus Āporo apple packers

Robotics Plus’ Āporo apple packers

The role Māori heritage has played in Robotics Plus’ development saw the company win the Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau — Māori Company of the Year.

“It’s an absolute honor for the team to be recognized with these awards, which recognize the dedication of our staff, partners and supporters,” said Steve Saunders, co-founder and chairman of Robotics Plus. “We share a commitment to help industry meet the challenges of feeding the world in a sustainable way assisted by smart automation and intelligent robotics… Our core company values are ‘he aronga nui’ (pioneering), ‘manaakitanga’ (collaboration), ‘tika me te pono’ (principled) and ‘kaitiakitangi’ (stewardship). Importantly, these values also resonate strongly with our local and international partners.”