Looking to source hardware for Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) or Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGVs)? Learn what it is a stake when choosing hardware for mobile robotic applications.
Summer is here! You have probably been daydreaming and counting the days to finally leave the office, get on a plane and land on a peaceful, green tropical jungle in the Caribbean or Central America.
Jungles are interesting places for birdwatching, trekking, and hiking. They are great places to reset your biological cycle and reconnect with nature, really. But they are not the magical, static, peaceful places we think of. A full-on battle for resources is going on under our noses.
Flora and fauna are in constant competition for resources. They are fighting to survive. And that is just the thing, not all will survive because resources are limited. For example, trees compete for soil, sunlight, oxygen, and water.
What does this epic battle have to do with mobile robotics?
Nowadays, thanks to Industry 4.0 latest technology trends, automation and robotics are ranking as a priority in research, development, and implementation in many companies. After all, we have been attempting to create machines that perform repetitive and dangerous tasks in our behalf since the Greeks.
Good news! We have succeeded in giving machines an essential role in many factories thanks to their precision in production lines. You can check out online many success stories about lights out factories, particularly in the automotive industry.
Nevertheless, there are still great untapped opportunities in mobile applications. And one of the great challenges to overcome have to do with the limited resources inside a robot to gather and process data to make decisions and act.
How to win the battle? Below we provide a few aspects you need to consider when selecting hardware for mobile robotic applications.
The fist factor to consider is space. Mobile robots strive for compact footprint. The smaller the robot, the easier it can navigate through different facilities: airports, supermarkets, warehouses, stores, hospitals, among others. Mobile robots also need to adjust to construction standards or current application sizes, like AGVs adjusting to current car or truck sizes. As a result, you need to work with miniaturized components and design flexibility on boards. In other words, the robot’s computing capabilities are competing for space with motors, drivers, cabling, ports, power source, etc. Every single inch counts, and you can’t afford to oversize any component inside the robot.
All activities require a power source. Stationary applications can connect to a stable and constant power supply, rendering it almost limitless and requiring little space within the equipment. When we think about mobile applications, power becomes a priority as it is limited and entails a significant percentage of footprint. We are talking about batteries and charging stations. There are two ways to tackle this issue:
- Component power efficiency: First, you can start by including power efficient components on your boards. This will guarantee that your AMR/AGV will use power effectively and efficiently to perform desirable tasks with smaller batteries and recharging times.
- Quick recharge capabilities: pick high-quality batteries that will recharge as quickly as possible, matched with small recharge stations that are close to the AMR/AGV.
As a summary, use power wisely starting at the board and power supply level.
One of the biggest problems in enclosed, compact spaces is clearance and ventilation. Specialized industrial hardware components are designed to work in high temperatures and confined environments. Another important difference between regular commercial components and industrial ones is lifecycle management. Industrial components are designed to be manufactured for a lot longer than regular components. Plus, if you own the design, you can also control the manufacturing for more time. This allows you to protect your initial capital investment on design and developing which in turns helps you prolong post-sales services of your robots. If you want to learn more, you can read this blog.
Robots are usually created with a mission. Thus, they must be able to gather and process data to make decisions and act. Simple, right? So, after considering space constraints, harsh environment conditions, and power supply limitations, you must design strong processing capabilities that can handle the workload. This is where you decide if your robot will do all processing independently or will connect to a network to partly process data in a server. In that case, you must consider the board components as well as the servers installed in your data center or facility in addition to IOT equipment. Finally, if your AMR/AGV will be connecting to the internet or an intranet you must take security precautions. You can read more about hardware security in our Cybersecurity Blog Series.
As you can see, mobile robots are the result of a battle of soil, sunlight, oxygen, and water. The trick to be successful in designing and building these systems is learning how to balance each of these priorities to perform the desirable tasks.This is just the beginning. If you want to continue learning about hardware considerations for AMRs or AGVs, check out our Robotics Blog Series.