SICK and SOTO: A new mobile robot for industrial production
Rarely has a gap filler been so innovative: Robotics company Magazino developed the new SOTO, a supply chain robot for those in-between areas of production that have not been automated until now. Together with SICK, a mobile robot was designed for the assembly of production lines. This revolutionary little worker is sure to take hold in the automotive industry and many other sectors.
“Magazino and SICK have a long history together”, explains Raphael Vering, Product Manager at Magazino. The latest chapter in this story is the SOTO 2 mobile robot, which supplies industrial production facilities with small load carriers with complete autonomy.
Automated material supply in industrial production processes
Whereas manual operations were almost always required for upstream and downstream processes in production lines, the SOTO was a real turning point: It drives to the warehouse, picks up small load carriers, loads them up on its back, and then chauffeurs the boxes to the assembly station to deliver them – and all of these processes are completely autonomous and done just in time. “Gripping different heights and racks, transporting up to 24 containers at one time and delivering them to different assembly locations with complete flexibility. The SOTO is probably the only product available now that combines these three steps in one vehicle”, says Raphael Vering.
Surrounded by sensor solutions from SICK
This is one more milestone on the road to “Factory 4.0”, and SICK, a specialist in intelligent sensor solutions for mobile robots, was also involved. “By working with SICK, we were able to build a robot that can safely perceive its surroundings and work well with humans”, adds Vering. For localization and navigation purposes, three microScan3 safety laser scanners are installed under the vehicle floor. Safety light curtains also prevent humans from interfering with the moving vehicle. The DFS60 incremental encoders are also from SICK. And finally, the Visionary-T Mini 3D camera controls the travel path from above to help with navigation and detect obstacles that are not at the height of the safety laser scanners.
Visionary-T Mini, an Argus eye in real time
It was this 3D vision sensor in particular that helped Magazino put the SOTO 2 on the track to production. With up to 30 frames per second, the 3D snapshot image recording process registers potential obstacles in the travel path: For instance, manned forklift truck prongs or large screws and nuts just above ground level can be detected with ease. The Visionary-T Mini also identifies objects attached to walls, such as fire extinguishers or monitors. The same applies to obstacles floating in space (e.g. protruding bars or palletized goods) and, last but not least, “negative” obstacles such as sloping stairs or ramps.
The Visionary-T Mini also proved its practical worth in industrial environments with its various options for stable mounting, a good Internet connection, high resolution and smooth processing of data as well as a large scanning range. And all of this was helped along by the productive collaboration of a team of experts: For example, Magazino received a prototype of the 3D vision camera early on so it could tackle the complex development steps with the support of the SICK experts.
A pioneer in production logistics
The SOTO 2 is a new piece of the puzzle in smart production logistics. It increases the automation of production processes, relieves employees and helps make processes more efficient. The mobile robot will first be used by vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, but will later also help in the production of household appliances and electronic devices. “We will continue to lean on SICK and its sensor solutions for mobile robotics”, assures Vering. The mutual success story is just getting started.