New Challenges in AMR Interoperability

Maestro

Chief Orchestrator

AMR Challenges – Interoperability


Every industry has its elephant in the room, and AMRs are no exception. One of the most prominent of them is AMR interoperability.


In our second blog post, about the safety challenges of deploying AMR’s, we tackled the issue of AMR interoperability from the safety aspect (even referencing a cute video of Star Wars’ R2D2 epic robot fight with R3F6 to depict the subject at hand).


Reality is not as dramatic, but it’s quickly becoming problematic. Fully autonomous mobile robots are supposed to be the next- generation of mobile task execution that addresses challenges of the operation floor of the future. But what do you do if this floor is populated by two, three, even four different types of mobile robots?


This isn’t science fiction. It is happening today, especially in the post-Corona world. A hospital may have temperature-taking robots, food distribution robots, and cleaning robots - all moving in the same space at the same time.


A production floor may have a picking robot, forklift robot, cleaning robot, and security robot – all fulfilling different tasks simultaneously. This begs the question, how do you optimally synchronize these different robots?


The Limits of Localized Intelligence


When you look at existing AMR technologies (we actually counted and there are about 300 companies developing ABs and AMRs), you can see they have marginal technological differentiation.All are designed in a similar way and suffer from the same shortcomings:sophisticated and expensive platforms that are complex to manage and even harder to scale.


If you look under the hood, all AMRs have plenty of hardware components that enable autonomy, and expensive software to manage all functionalities. This includes sophisticated navigation systems, processing units, sensors, cameras, and so on, installed on each robot. These systems turn the robots into intelligent yet prohibitively expensive machines (a topic we covered extensively in our first post in the series).


Furthermore, since each AMR type is normally produced by a different vendor, they run on different operating systems, navigation systems, and fleet management systems. All this makes operating different robots and systems on a single floor a very complex task.


In fact, the few attempts to find a solution to the interoperability problem centered on developing a fleet management software compatible with a number of AMR vendors; or alternatively, finding ways for the AMRs to ‘talk’ to each other through a common API (that would enable communication between the different operating systems).


If you look under the hood, all AMRs have plenty of hardware components that enable autonomy, and expensive software to manage all functionalities. This includes sophisticated navigation systems, processing units, sensors, cameras, and so on, installed on each robot. These systems turn the robots into intelligent yet prohibitively expensive machines (a topic we covered extensively in our first post in the series).


Furthermore, since each AMR type is normally produced by a different vendor, they run on different operating systems, navigation systems, and fleet management systems. All this makes operating different robots and systems on a single floor a very complex task.


In fact, the few attempts to find a solution to the interoperability problem centered on developing a fleet management software compatible with a number of AMR vendors; or alternatively, finding ways for the AMRs to ‘talk’ to each other through a common API (that would enable communication between the different operating systems).

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