Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors play an important role in safely navigating Autonomous Mobile Robots in the warehouse. How do these sensors work in our AMR, the arculee? How can they be optimised for better results, and what benefits does Intralogistics 4.0 gain from their use? Here are some interesting insights.
Over the past few years, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) have become an integral part of Intralogistics 4.0. The industry has leveraged technology to increase productivity and reduce errors through the adoption of warehouse robots. Vital for making AMRs so effective are the onboard sensors, which enable the robot to autonomously transport materials from point A to point B without the need for physical guides. Indeed, that’s why most industries today require the use of automation with intelligence in their logistics processes.
These onboard sensors act as the eyes of AMRs. At arculus, our developers chose LiDAR sensors that can detect any obstacles and find the best path to the destination point. In layman’s terms, LiDAR works as a remote sensing technology that repeatedly emits laser beams, enabling our software to measure distance, position and speed of the targets between the robot and any objects in its path. The time each laser beam takes to reflect into the sensor creates a dot or a point, these points when combined create a point cloud. These point clouds are able to depict a complete image of the environment or room, which is called a map.
How does LiDAR work in the arculee?
The arculee has two mounted 270° Scanner LiDAR Sensors and has the capability to produce a 360° view around the robot. When the arculee moves around within the environment, each sensor collects 1081 points (2162 points in total) in each scanning cycle, at the frequency of 33 Hz to reproduce a 3D geological mapping of the landscape.
During the mapping process, the arculee also estimates its exact position in relation to the current and previously collected points within the environment. This process is generally known as “Localisation”. When done together with mapping, it is called Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM), which can generate dynamic maps in challenging environments. This is essential for accurate robot movement within the work premises.
Once the map is built, the arculee is ready to navigate. What gives it an edge is its ability to identify objects that were not present during the mapping process. These objects can now be found in the safety field around the robot. “The arculee gets one of its three warning signs from the safety moderator, and it stops or changes its path immediately”, explains our Software Engineer, Iuri.
What is the role of ROS here?
The Robot Operating System (ROS) is a set of software libraries and tools used to build robotic applications. In general, the collected data or point cloud from LiDAR sensors can be merged into the system. arculus however uses ROS only for the simulations to avoid building flaws in the arculee. It is certainly not run on the robot and has very little to do with the sensors.
What benefits does this technology offer to Intralogistics 4.0?
- LiDAR sensors, unlike cameras, actively emit light signals. This means that they do not rely on external sources of light. Hence, the arculee can function even in dark corners of the warehouse.
- With the safety field and data, accidents can be prevented at the premises, since the arculee is able to timely stop itself if any human or obstacle gets in its way.
- Most importantly, due to its high resolution, the LiDAR is highly sensitive to even small obstacles. This makes this type of sensor a better choice than other tech options.
Is LiDAR a good investment?
Most definitely, yes! LiDAR has proven to be one of the best technologies for navigation and for avoiding collisions. Instead of modifying warehouses, the sensors help the arculee adapt to the shifting environments. This not only improves productivity and delivers better results at a reduced cost, but they are crucial for the safety of the objects and instruments in modern smart factories. LiDAR sensors allow the robot to operate at high speed, without causing damage to any objects in the environment.