Today’s robotics developers have made huge strides thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and camera technology, which have led to the creation of fully autonomous mobile robots (AMR) that can replicate human activities. Robots can now perform a variety of tasks previously performed by humans, from autonomous navigation to fertilizer distribution and many other types of material handling.
This human-machine collaboration that employs robots in retail stores, agricultural areas, warehouses, schools, hospitals, industries, and the like is greatly facilitated by vision and cameras. A variety of fields, by turning the cameras into the “eyes” of autonomous mobile robots.
AMRs and combined vision
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can perform activities on their own with little or no human intervention, as the name indicates. In order to achieve this, AMR must accurately see and understand its environment, often making decisions and judgments in real time, using embedded vision, and the technology that supports this ability.
The term “embedded vision” is used to describe the integration of camera modules into embedded electronic devices and devices, such as a robot. These cameras play a critical role in helping these robots navigate safely around their intended environment. This requires the use of specialized camera types that have been painstakingly created and combined to produce the kind of photos and videos required.
While the global AMR market is expected to grow to $8.70 billion by 2028, the machine vision cameras market is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 9.9% between fiscal year 2022 and 2027. Fields and for a range of Applications, including:
- Transport warehouses, supply management, stock tracking, cleaning, etc.
- Deliveries, patrols and farming tasks including weeding, harvesting and fertilizing.
- Concierge services, delivery services and shelf management in retail establishments
- Offices, hospitals, mega construction projects, restaurants and more
Robots equipped with cameras in warehouses
Robots have been crucial in helping warehouse managers automate a variety of processes, reduce workforce requirements and increase efficiency. These functions include receiving and depositing products, loading and unloading materials, transporting goods, and more. Today’s camera-equipped robots are used in a variety of capacities in warehousing operations, including the following:
- select and place: These robots meticulously pick and place items to and from warehouse shelves. This is made possible through the use of cameras to detect and locate an object in certain situations.
- Goods to Person: For flawless navigation, these autonomous robots use cameras to determine depth, seamlessly implementing automated storage and retrieval functions.
- Automatic forklifts: These robotic forklifts are equipped with vision cameras to facilitate loading, unloading, lifting and moving of large and heavy items.
- Inventory Management: Robots and drones are also used to monitor storage in warehouses and stocks. They have cameras to identify objects and scan barcodes/RFIDs.
- Robotic appendage: These mechanical arms are often used in industries for tasks such as heavy lifting, material handling, and machine maintenance. Here, the cameras help to find, locate and discover the things you need to deal with.
Cameras deliver power to the last mile
Robotic delivery services are used at home and abroad to bring in food, parcels and other things.
It works similarly when used indoors in establishments including offices, hospitals and restaurants. The cameras used in delivery robots help in assessing depth and monitoring the packages being delivered. While indoor applications have cameras facing outward, most outdoor delivery robots have cameras installed inside the vehicle.
Mobile smart monitoring
Patrol bots are sophisticated monitoring tools that can monitor property around the clock for theft, trespassing, or other illegal activities. They often use a multi-camera setup to enable a 360-degree view since they need to get a complete picture of their surroundings. Robots also rely on cameras to get around, especially when navigating crowded areas.
Agricultural robots for smart farming
Today, harvesting robots, autonomous tractors, weeding tools, etc. are widely used in agriculture. They require cameras to automate basic agricultural chores including plowing, fertilizer application, pest and weed detection, fruit and vegetable picking, crop harvesting, and NDVI monitoring, among others. Agricultural robots use cameras for autonomous navigation as do other robots.
Robots in Retail and Shopping
In this age of physical and online shopping, AMR is often used to enhance both the customer and employee experience in retail organizations. Here are some examples of what AMRs do:
- Shoppers can use concierge services to help them find the things or area they are looking for.
- To complete online purchases, the robots can move merchandise to the curbside pickup area of the retail location.
- It also helps in controlling the stock on the shelf so that the retail staff can replace the shelves in a timely manner, thus enabling smooth and seamless retail logistics.
- Staff can assist customers from a distance, using telepresence bots for remote communication and support. It is also possible to use these bots for employee communication.
Hence, cameras are used in retail robots for a wide range of functions including barcode scanning, object identification, navigation, and communications, as well as in restaurants, hotels and other retail establishments for delivery, attendant or concierge services.
Robotic medical assistance
Robots are used in telemedicine, diagnostics, robotic surgery, robotic medical carts in hospitals, and many other areas of medical business. Robots facilitate efficient communication, urgent care and treatment, and efficient performance of medical operations, benefiting both patients and staff. The ability of these robots to pick up and place items, communicate with patients and healthcare professionals, scan barcodes and text, locate objects, and navigate are all made possible by cameras.
By automating transportation processes in production and logistics functions, AMR opens the door to better efficiency and faster return on investment. In the coming years, they will be able to safely and effectively navigate more dynamic production situations as vision suppliers continue to offer high-performance image hardware, improved software modeling, and durable data processing.
The opinions above are those of the author.
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