Robotics

Five tips for specifying mobile robots

Before investing in an industrial mobile robot, get answers for these five questions.

By Matthew Wade September 30, 2020
The mini UVC, jointly developed by BlueBotics and Engmotion, is mobile robot that disinfects as programmed every using UVC lamp technologies. It can be used alone or in a connected fleet to autonomously disinfect hospitals, airports, hotels, and commercial/industrial sites. BlueBotics uses its autonomous navigation technology (ANT) mobile robot platform to simplify and shorten installation of AGVs and mobile robots. Courtesy: BlueBotics SA

 

Learning Objectives

  • Mobile robotic installation should be disruptive when integrating with existing systems.
  • Changing pathsfor mobile robots shouldn’t be difficult.
  • Robot maintenance should be part of the plan when investing in a fleet.

If you are thinking of moving to a mobile robot or automated guided vehicle (AGV), there are questions that should be asked. BlueBotics chief executive officer, Nicola Tomatis, with a PhD in robotics, covered five key areas to consider before buying mobile robotics.

1. How is the vehicle installed?

Tomatis: You may have asked lots of questions about a vehicle’s capability, but have you considered how it will be installed? Will it take a matter of hours, a day or so, or weeks of integration requiring third-party personnel on site and disrupting normal operations?

2. How easy is it to adapt and change routes?

Tomatis: All businesses change and grow, meaning you are likely to want to change the routes on which the robot is operating. Is this a simple change to “digital” paths, or does it require more substantial, physical changes? Make sure your investment is not going to be a huge ongoing overhead every time your business takes a new direction.

Dr. Nicola Tomatis is CEO of BlueBotics SA. Courtesy: BlueBotics SA

Dr. Nicola Tomatis is CEO of BlueBotics SA. Courtesy: BlueBotics SA

3. Can you scale your vehicle fleet?

Tomatis: You may not need multiple vehicles today, but you should consider what happens when you do. Adding a new mobile robot or AGV should not be a whole new project. Look at what fleet management options are offered with the vehicle and how easy it is to add new vehicles over time.

It is also worth asking whether you are tied to one type or brand of robot or vehicle, or whether the system can accommodate others, so you are not locked into one vendor.

4. What kind of maintenance plan is offered?

Tomatis: All machines need maintenance and your vehicles are only useful when they are working reliably – so, keep them working. Ensure you have access to a maintenance plan that suits your business’ needs.

5. How proven is the system in real-world applications?

Tomatis: Someone must go first, but it does not have to be you – and, if it is, you do not want that to be a surprise. Be clear whether you are one of the first customers, or whether thousands of vehicles are installed and proven in global applications so you can understand the risks associated with your choice.

Matthew Wade is head of marketing, BlueBotics SA. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Mobile robots, mobile robotics, robot specifications

Mobile robotic installation should be disruptive when integrating with existing systems.

Changing paths for mobile robots shouldn’t be difficult.

Robot maintenance should be part of the plan when investing in a fleet.

CONSIDER THIS 

Visit an existing mobile robotic operator to get feedback before you decide.

ONLINE 

See an image for a mobile disinfectant robot.

www.controleng.com/robotics

Online Extra 

Who is Dr. Nicola Tomatis, CEO, BlueBotics SA?

Tomatis has been the CEO of BlueBotics since 2003 and joined its Board of Directors in 2015. He holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from ETH Zurich and a PhD in Robotics from the EPFL in Lausanne. He received the IEEE Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation in 2008 and has twice been included in Bilan’s 300 Most Influential People in Switzerland. He also sits on the board of euRobotics AISBL.


Matthew Wade
Author Bio: Matthew Wade, BlueBotics