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ABB just recently began its venture into autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), but it’s already upgrading the technology. ABB is installing Sevensense Robotics’ autonomous navigation technology into its AMRs. ABB plans to integrate Sevensense’s software and hardware into its AMRs, and begin pilot customer projects in 2022.
ABB is best known for its industrial and collaborative robot arms, but in July 2021 it began to venture into AMRs with the acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics for $190 million.
Sevensense, a spin-off from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, was founded in 2018. Earlier in November 2021, Sevensense raised $7.7 million in Series A funding led by ABB Technology Ventures.
With Sevensense’s computer vision and AI algorithms, ABB’s mobile robots will be able to autonomously navigate indoor and outdoor environments, whether in the rain or sun, or close to people. Sevensense’s 3D SLAM navigation constructs a 3D map of the area that the robot operates in. The robot compares the things it’s seeing to the map it created to know where it is and how to respond to its environment.
“Integrating Sevensense’s AI and 3D mapping technology with our AMR offering will help accelerate the replacement of today’s linear production lines with fully flexible networks,” said Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation. “Our vision of the future workplace is one in which AMRs move materials, parts and finished products between smart workstations in increasingly unstructured, dynamic work environments and our partnership with Sevensense is an important step in realizing that vision.”
Atiya said on The Robot Report Podcast that more of ABB’s customers began asking about mobile robots. Buying ASTI gave ABB a quick way into the mobile robotics industry without developing its own technology. You can listen to that podcast below.
ABB chose Sevensense to partner with after it participated in ABB’s 2021 Robotics Innovation Challenge. The challenge tested the performance of different visual SLAM solutions from technology companies around the world.