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ABB Robotics Unveils Breakthrough Visual SLAM Technology for Autonomous Mobile Robots!

ABB Robotics is at the forefront of innovation once again, introducing Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (VSLAM) technology to its Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). This groundbreaking advancement equips ABB AMRs with the intelligence to make informed path-planning and obstacle-avoidance decisions based on their surroundings, heralding a new era of efficiency and flexibility in various industries.

VSLAM harnesses the power of AI algorithms in conjunction with data from 3D vision cameras to perceive the world around the AMR in a three-dimensional representation. Unlike traditional navigation methods such as magnetic tape or QR codes, which require additional infrastructure, SLAM-based navigation techniques significantly reduce commissioning time by up to 20 percent. Moreover, they necessitate less calibration and entail no modifications to existing infrastructure.

Compared to conventional 2D SLAM technology, VSLAM offers a holistic three-dimensional view of the environment. This enables AMRs to detect overhangs, such as shelving, drawers, walkways, cables, fork truck forks, and other obstacles above ground level, enhancing safety and efficiency. Without this capability or supplementary onboard sensors, a 2D SLAM-based AMR might encounter collisions with such obstacles.

The integration of Visual SLAM technology marks a significant leap forward for companies seeking to enhance their operations. Marc Segura, President of ABB Robotics Division, emphasizes the transformative impact of VSLAM-enabled AMRs: "Our new AMRs operate safely in dynamic, human-populated environments, offering enhanced autonomy and intelligence. This technology revolutionizes robotic applications across industries, from production and distribution to healthcare, enabling faster, more efficient, and more flexible operations."

VSLAM facilitates the creation of real-time 3D maps of nearby objects, providing a level of understanding akin to human perception. AMRs equipped with VSLAM can discern various elements in their environment, including floor, walls, ceiling, and objects like humans, support beams, conveyors, fork trucks, and other AMRs, with remarkable accuracy of 0.1 inches (3 mm).

In addition to superior perception performance, vision cameras offer cost advantages over rotating mirror LiDAR sensors, contributing to the overall affordability of AMRs. With no moving parts, vision cameras exhibit greater robustness, especially for mobile platforms like AMRs that experience vibrational shock. Although VSLAM perception algorithms are more computationally intensive, the benefits outweigh any increased power consumption, making them a viable solution for most ground-based mobile robots.

Collaborating with partner Sevensense Robotics, a leader in AI and 3D visualization technology, ABB developed Visual SLAM AMRs to meet the evolving needs of industries. The AMR T702V and AMR P604V are the latest additions to ABB's AMR lineup, scheduled to implement VSLAM technology in Q3 and Q4 2023, respectively. ABB plans to introduce more VSLAM-based AMR solutions until 2025, further solidifying its position as an industry leader in robotics innovation.

The acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics in July 2021 marked a significant milestone for ABB, strengthening its mobile robotics division. With the ASTI headquarters serving as the global development center for ABB's mobile robotics division, the company is poised to drive further advancements in autonomous mobile robot technology. Explore the insights of Sami Atiya, CEO of ABB Robotics, and Verónica Pascual, CEO of ASTI Mobile Robotics, in episode 48 of The Robot Report Podcast.

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