If you run a logistics business, then chances are that you use (or are looking to use) an AMR – autonomous mobile robot to help you to move materials from one place to another. AMRs are a great way to increase productivity within a workplace, to help get jobs done quickly that a human might not be able to, and can be more cost-effective on Localization.
In the same way that humans rely on maps to get around, AMRs need some navigational help too in order to successfully find their way. However, they can’t always rely on GPS to do this as particularly when indoors it can often be inaccurate. Navigation for AMRs needs to be very precise so they don’t knock things (or people) over and get it in the exact place that it is meant to in order to be efficient and safe. This is why they rely on Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping also known as SLAM.
SLAM works by essentially using an algorithm and different sensors and tools to create a map of the surroundings as the robots move about. By making up and building their own maps as they go, they align this data with sensor data from the past and are able to create an accurate picture of their surroundings.
SLAM first came to be around the mid-1980s and can use many sensors depending on its purpose. An example is ultrasonic sensors that estimate their position in relation to other infrastructure, whereas lidar range scans are used to estimate their position. If there is a situation where the room is empty and so the robot can’t gauge a sense of perspective, then a 3D lidar or 3D stereo depth camera-based sensor can help. This is slightly pricier but is often worth it for the increased Localization precision.
SLAM means that robots can map the spatial information of their environment easily and efficiently – each and every time. By using this, robots will soon learn their surroundings and being free from any wires or guidance from a human, will be a very efficient and cost-saving way of working in a factory or warehouse. They will be able to travel down hallways, in tunnels and in elevators, steering clear of any people or obstructions that might come in their way. They are able to localize within their boundaries and find their way through areas that might be congested or have things in the way. This is why it is so important that they know how to avoid them – as if, for example, a human were walking around, it could be dangerous if the AMR were to collide with them.
AMR’s are one of the most effective things that you can add to your business. Without the need for human intervention, they can just get on with the task at hand, leaving other employees free for other tasks. There is much less of a health and safety risk and you don’t need to pay robots a wage so it can save you money on this too. You can find out more about SLAM, Simultaneous Localization and Mapping in AMRs in this page and see just how it can benefit your business.