Scientists aid development of warehouse robots

Published: 29 May 2018

University of Edinburgh researchers are helping to develop smart robots to quickly shift goods in warehouses or assembly lines to help increase efficiency and automation in warehouse operations.

Businesses such as online retailers face an increased need for orders to be automatically selected from vast ranges and volumes of stock.

The system, developed for Hitachi, is almost 40 per cent faster than its predecessor and based on multiple artificially intelligent components that work together.

We are delighted to see the successful results of more than two years of collaboration with the Hitachi R&D Group, Center for Technology Innovation, culminating in practical and deployable improvements in automated warehousing technology.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, School of Informatics

A smart camera, pre-programmed with details about the goods to be moved, scans items as they are conveyed by an automated vehicle towards a robot arm.

Data collected by the camera influences the speed of the vehicle carrying the goods, and informs how the robot arm picks up items as they pass.

The system’s vehicle and arm can move close to each other at optimal speeds without colliding, based on adaptive motion planning. This allows for smooth collection of items without stopping the vehicle.

The method improves on conventional technology in which the process halts for goods to be collected.

Hitachi will work towards commercialising a robot system for warehouse operations as well as developing technology to increase the speed and automation of processes.

The design of the trajectory, path planning and control of the robotic arm was developed in collaboration with researchers from the School of Informatics.

Our robotics lab has been at the forefront of machine learning techniques for adaptive motion planning and control of complex multi-degree of freedom robots and this provides an excellent opportunity to see this expertise used to solve real-world problems."

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, School of Informatics


Source: University of Edinburgh


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