Warehouse and Industrial Autonomous Mobile Robots

Mouser Electronics
Sunday, 01 May, 2022


Learning Mobility

A while back, I was blessed with the birth of my first grandchild. It was a boy. His name is Hudson (Figure 1). Hudson lives very far across the country from me, over 3000 km between us. I use technology to watch and participate in various moments of his life. He is presently about 10 months old. I watch him crawling along the floor and standing up with assistance. In a short time, he will progress to standing independently and walking around upright.

As you know, this development and growth in mobility means a whole world of opportunity will open up to Hudson as he explores whatever he is interested in. Akin to Hudson’s self-development, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are programmed to operate successfully within their surroundings. I will share with you how Amphenol RF is helping to enable autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to navigate warehouse and industrial environments successfully, without the fear of bumping into things.

Figure 1: Picture of Hudson (Source: Author)

Autonomous Mobile Robots: Motion and Context

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are increasing adoption in warehouse and industrial environments. They are reliable, round-the-clock, self-directed assets used to move and manage the flow of materials and products, plus work alongside people within these application contexts. AMRs can perform repetitive, complex, heavy, and potentially dangerous tasks efficiently and successfully.

The development of a baby’s capability to move under their own control will bring them into constantly new contexts. Babies have to employ all their senses and their ever-increasing knowledge of their context and surroundings to address whatever they encounter. Babies use their sight, hearing, touch and often their mouth (taste) to learn how to safely navigate their surroundings.

In order to move, robots must incorporate a variety of sensors to collect data about their environment. They can have ‘sight’ by a sense of vision often achieved through cameras. Moving robots may use time-of-flight or infrared sensors to tell them which approaching objects from which they may need to make a course correction change to avoid a possible collision. They often can both employ or detect auditory signals that give them information about their surroundings. They may utilize field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and microcontrollers (MCUs) to process this information and turn it into executable decisions.

Autonomous Mobile Robots: Autonomy

Aided by new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), AMRs can ‘learn’ how to navigate to maximize productivity. When AMRs experience unexpected contexts, they can adapt and adjust. Self-correcting their course and navigating any potential obstacles without being impeded. This technology gives them autonomy.

Autonomy means they can operate with a degree of ‘self-legislation’ or ‘self-governance’. This autonomy enables them to work independently of external operators. Their programming is such that they can self-govern their decision-making to optimize their performance to stated objectives constantly. Programming includes making them coherent to themselves to assess and prioritize what is considered higher- and lower-order responses. Sensing, processing, and AI combine to make them responsive to reasons, meaning they can see contextual clues and respond with reason. ML, a subset of AI, uses algorithms and places them into structural descriptions based on data examples. ML enables the robot to ‘learn’, making it responsive to reasoning allowing its autonomous motion. Responsive reasoning will enable them to act and function independently of human interface.

Amphenol RF

Amphenol RF is a division of Amphenol Corporation. Amphenol RF is the world’s largest manufacturer of coaxial interconnect products for radio frequency (RF), microwave, and data transmission applications. As a leader in enabling next-generation technology, Amphenol RF is constantly supporting global advancements in connectivity. Amphenol RF is committed to providing solutions for autonomous mobile robots in warehouse and industrial environments.

An excellent example of this is Amphenol RF AUTOMATE® Type A Mini-FAKRA Connectors (Figure 2). These subminiature version B (SMB) coaxial RF connectors feature a space-conscious, high-performance interface. This makes them well-suited for the next generation of autonomous vehicles and robotic applications. This series supports up to 20Gbps data transmission and reduces installation space requirements by 80% compared with standard FAKRA (Fachkreis Automobil, a German standard) products. Typical applications include 360° surround-view cameras, autonomous vehicles (AVs), and AMRs.

Figure 2: Amphenol RF AUTOMATE Type A Mini-FAKRA Connectors support data transmission rates up to 20Gbps and are well-suited for the next generation of autonomous vehicles and robotic applications. (Source: Mouser Electronics)

AMRs often successfully employ Amphenol RF AMC4 RA to TNC/RP-TNC Jack IP67 Cable Assemblies. These are right-angle plugs to TNC (Threaded Neill–Concelman) and RP (Reverse Polarity)-TNC IP67 straight front mount bulkhead jack cable assemblies (Figure 3). These cable assemblies are available in a 1.13mm micro-cable type and 100mm, 150mm, 200mm, 250mm, and 300mm cable length. The AMC4 RA to TNC/RP-TNC cable assemblies are offered with gold contact plating with brass and phosphor bronze contact materials. The cable assemblies feature a 50Ω impedance and 6GHz maximum frequency.

(Figure 3: Amphenol RF AMC4 RA to TNC/RP-TNC Jack IP67 Cable Assemblies offer a maximum frequency of 6GHz, an impedance of 50Ω, and are well-suited for AMRs. (Source: Mouser Electronics)

Conclusion

Before robots can become smart enough to move efficiently and work independently among other machines and people, they must be taught and have the ability to learn naturally from their surroundings. Like with infants, this process to move autonomously safely from one spot to another often involves baby steps. Rarely does it happen immediately. Amphenol is engineering technology to help robots make sense of their surroundings and make intelligent connections to move about, freely on their own. You can follow their progress by watching the Amphenol PluggedIn Video Series where we discuss this and other topics and key products that demand more convenience, mobility, power, and speed.

*Paul Golata joined Mouser Electronics in 2011. As a Senior Technology Specialist, Paul contributes to Mouser’s success through driving strategic leadership, tactical execution, and the overall product-line and marketing directions for advanced technology related products. He provides design engineers with the latest information and trends in electrical engineering by delivering unique and valuable technical content that facilitates and enhances Mouser Electronics as the preferred distributor of choice.

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/AndSus

Originally published here.

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