Mobile piece picking robots have always showed great promise and potential in regards to warehouse logistics and, more recently, the re-stocking store shelves. Often though, concerns about accuracy or speed factored tempered expectations about their actual usefulness.
That’s all beginning to change, however, says Tom Galluzzo, CEO of IAM Robotics, in the video interview below. Improvements in computer vision systems have allowed mobile piece picking robots to become quicker, as well as improving their ability to accurately identify objects. In warehouse settings, robots are now able to work at speeds equivalent to that of humans, quickly scanning shelves for the correct object, and placing it into a bin before moving on to the next one.
Galluzzo sees vision as one of the most important factors in improving the performance of these robots. Humans rely almost entirely on vision to navigate warehouse spaces, and by giving robots these same abilities, it reduces the need to install navigation infrastructure for robots, or to design entire warehouse spaces around the robots.
Here, existing warehouse layouts can be kept intact, without compromising the performance of the robots.
Mobile piece picking robots are also being developed for a new task: shelf restocking. This process was put on display at RoboBusiness 2017, where one of the company’s robots could be seen taking items off a shelf, placing them into a container, and then putting it back on the shelf in the correct location, mimicking the shelf restocking process.
It’s easy to imagine fleets of robots being used to simultaneously pick items off the shelves, filling outgoing shipping containers, while other robots went around replenishing items on shelves, and keeping the entire warehouse operation running autonomously.
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