Inside Logistics

Universal Robots makes it debut at Modex

Demand for collaborative robotic applications is growing with e-commerce expansion

April 10, 2018

ATLANTA – Warehouse processes such as order fulfillment require the ability to recognize and pick a wide range of items that are different sizes, weights, and materials, often jumbled together in bins. While traditional industrial robots usually stay bolted down in protective cages, dedicated to one handling task only, collaborative robots, or cobots, effectively address this automation challenge with flexible implementation and low upfront cost.

At Modex Universal Robots is showcasing its collaborative robot arms in new applications, giving attendees hands-on experience with the next generation of automation solutions for the supply-chain industry.

RightPick.AI from RightHand Robotics (RHR) is the first vision-guided machine learning-based software designed to enable autonomous “lights out” robotic item-picking for warehouse order fulfillment. Learning from both sensor feedback of the RightHand Robotics intelligent gripper and an integrated vision system, RightPick.AI provides the “brains” behind the RightPick solution suite for e-commerce fulfillment operations.

RHR co-founder Leif Jentoft refers to RightPick.AI’s flexible grasping capabilities as the “holy grail” in robotics technology.

“RightPick.AI-enabled piece-picking delivers ‘The Three Rs’ – range of items, rate of picking, and reliability of the customer getting what they ordered,” he says.

RightPick.AI can run on any robot arm, but RHR chose Universal Robots as they can safely work side-by-side with humans in warehouse environments.

“To have collaborative arms as user-friendly as the UR systems gives us a very accessible solution,” says RHR business development team member, Nadia Cheng. “I was super impressed by how easy it was to use, and how elegant the whole process was.”

RightPick.AI enables validated picking and placement of the industry’s widest range of items (SKUs) regardless of orientation – including items the system has not seen before, eliminating the need for 3D CAD models of new SKUs. The system can handle a variety of customer workflows, such as picking items from ASRS (Automate Storage and Retrieval Systems), inducting items onto sorters, sorting batch-picked items to put walls, and order quality assurance. Utilizing machine learning, the system becomes increasingly more intelligent, expanding the range of pickable SKUs and first-pick success, as well as pick and place validation capabilities.

Area sales manager with Universal Robots Brian Dillman says the company’s booth applications will appeal to any Modex attendee who needs to reduce picking fulfillment and intralogistics costs reliably at scale, while expanding operations quickly with minimal capital outlay.

“It’s encouraging to see the supply chain industry embrace our cobots and we’re expecting significant demand from this sector in the near future, especially in regions with tight labour markets,” he says.