ProMat 2019: Robotics

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Patty Katsaros and Jason Walker of Waypoint Robotics.

From brand-new startups to global suppliers, companies offering robotics solutions were on every corner at the show. From picking arms to robotic tuggers, forklifts and cellular AS/RS, there is robotics solution for almost every warehousing need, and many that might just be a solution in search of challenge. Whether robotics is a fad or not is yet to be seen, but the dynamic driving innovation – the labour shortage – is not going to change soon. Robotics makers and integrators are counting on that fact to help them build interest and buyers in the distribution space.

For the team at two-year-old Waypoint Robotics, the key is making a product that is flexible, simple and easy to integrate. Their simple AGV is driven with a PlayStation controller to learn its route, and a reasonably skilled operator can map over 3,500 square feet in 10 minutes, making it a very easy set-up. “It’s designed for an ever-changing environment,” said CEO and co-founder Jason Walker.

Righthand Robotics made news at the show by winning the MHI award for best innovation of an existing product with its piece picking robot that combines an intelligent gripper, computer vision, artificial intelligence and machine learning, resulting in what the company calls “hand-eye coordination.” Its new skill is put-wall automation, combining barcode identification, placement to an array of cubbies (horizontal bin locations), and an integration with conventional put-to-light systems.

Kitchener, Ontario’s OTTO Motors presented a 750-kilo payload “Goldilocks solution” at the show. The new OTTO 750 is designed to carry the middle-sized load between a 100-kg human-powered cart and a 1,500-lb forklift load. OTTO 750 is built on the OTTO 1500 chassis, which is already used by large industrial customers like GE, Katerra and Musashi.
“Our customers have been asking for something just right for quite a while, and now we finally have it,” said Matt Rendall, CEO of OTTO parent Clearpath.