Autonomous Mobile Robots in the Workforce

Matt Rendall, CEO of Clearpath Robotics

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It seems autonomous robots and self-driving vehicles are everywhere today. Longstanding organizations and startups alike are competing to bring cutting-edge robotics to the market for commercial applications, household use, national security and defense work...the opportunities are limitless.

Clearpath Robotics is one of the leaders in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and they're putting this technology to work in industrial material handling applications.

We sat down with the company's CEO Matt Rendall at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago to talk about how Clearpath's brand of industrial AMRs - OTTO Motors - is ushering in the future of material handling.

 We talked about the difference between AGVs and AMRs, how artificial intelligence enables the AMRs to carry out their missions, what it takes to deploy a fleet in a facility, the kinds of programs students should enroll in if they want to work with AMRs in their career, and you'll even get a sneak preview of the new OTTO Lifter - "world's smartest forklift".

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. It's not AGVs vs. AMRs: People often think AGVs (automated guided vehicles) and AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) are either the same thing, or that one will replace the other. Neither is the case. Matt Rendall gives a great explanation of how these technologies are designed for specific functions and capabilities in an industrial material handling scenario. The added value of AMRs? They combine the predictability and efficiency of an AGV with the flexibility and intelligence of a human.
  2. SLAM is the heart of how an AMR is able to map its surroundings: Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) occurs when the AMR takes the data from its sensors, lasers and cameras and turns it into a live map that enables the robot to navigate its surroundings, even in a dynamic industrial facility.
  3. Technology will take tasks, not jobs, away from humans: People want to go to work and do fulfilling, creative and complex work - not rote tasks wear down the brain and body. Automation exists to do the dull, boring and dangerous tasks and enable companies to produce at maximum capacity. And when things are automated, people don't lose their jobs; they're redeployed elsewhere in the operation, often in more human-centric roles.

Students: Do you want to work with AMRs?

Deploying these AMRs takes a variety of individuals with different skillsets - technicals, engineers, software experts and operations experts. Matt suggests students who want to work with AMR technology should pursue mechatronics programs, as they naturally combine areas of study like mechanical systems, electronics and controls - all vital components of an AMR.

Resources

To learn more about OTTO Motors industrial AMRs, visit: ottomotors.com and be sure to check out the new OTTO Lifter!

To learn more about Clearpath Robotics, visit: clearpathrobotics.com

Connect with Clearpath and OTTO Motors on social media!

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