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Safe as robots – collision prevention

Article by Megan Gee
robots operating safely in warehouse

Warehouses are busy and complicated places. Whether manual or robotic, they present a wide range of potential hazards that must be carefully managed. While flexible automation can mitigate issues, change situations, and rearrange problems, it cannot completely eliminate hazards.

For this reason, the range of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) offered by Wise Robotics comes equipped with an extensive suite of safety features and hazard avoidance systems. All have been designed to ensure that, in addition to being superlatively fast and efficient, your automated warehouse is as safe as possible. In understanding both the dangers and the means to keep them at bay, you gain a more complete and robust understanding of industry 4.0.

Collision dangers

The dangers presented by collisions are very clear and palpably present.

A serious impact involving speeds of between 0.6-2 metres per second could severely damage your products/materials, your storage equipment, or even your robots themselves.

This could even result in stock and resources being completely destroyed, or worse, cause a severe injury, or even a fatality.

All of these, and more, can happen in the event of a collision-induced fire. In some instances, robotic collisions have resulted in damaged batteries. This can cause the kind of chemical reactions that

It’s for these kinds of reasons that the robots deployed by Wise Robotics feature advanced safety systems specifically designed to prevent collisions of all kinds. These exist both on the holistic systemwide level, but also directly impact each and every individual robot.

Sophisticated sensors

The AMRs that are the centre of the flexible automation solutions provided by Wise Robotics avoid collisions in a method that’s an improvement upon the way most people avoid car crashes when driving. The AMRs see the obstacles, understand what they are, and move out the way. But where drivers can get distracted and redirect their eyes to things other than the road, robots have no such problems. Flexible automation offers complete 360 vision that is fully focused on its goal 100% of the time.

The Q and F series of AMR on offer from Wise robotics features several different sensor types. Individually, they offer an important window into the wider environment around them. Collectively, they offer a clear and accurate picture of the warehouse space – the shape, size, and specific situation they are dealing with.

These sensors include systems such as infra-red sweeps, ultrasonic pulses, and LIDAR or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging, where precise beams of light give the AMR an exacting understanding of the obstacles and pathing opportunities they are moving through.

With these kinds of sensors in play, the AMRs of Wise Robotics can discover, detect, and divert around any and all obstacles they may encounter. Whether blockages are the result of stationary warehouse architecture, storage apparatus, picking staff members, or other robots, the AMRs are sophisticated enough to observe, understand, and avoid. The most important first line when it comes to collision prevention.

RCS awareness

The sensors not only tell the individual AMRs what they see and where to go to avoid collisions, but they also provide that information to the robotic control system (RCS).

By processing the vast array of inputs and readings gathered by the AMR’s sensor arrays, the RCS has a more complete and coherent picture of every action occurring in the warehouse. Far more than an individual AMR could detect with its singular suite of detection systems. Using this information, the RCS directs the AMRs in a way that not only maximises operational efficiency but also ensures that no two robots will ever be put on a collision course. Nor will any of the robots strike staff members, storage racks, or static obstacles.

The RCS, with its complete picture of the warehouse, can juggle every last aspect of flexible automation operations, keeping every moving part unobstructed, and avoiding every possible obstacle.

Big red buttons

While sensor networks and computer controls provide an immense and powerful defence, the final physical layer has its place too. There is no sense in completely removing the ability of staff to act in an emergency. This is why Wise Robotics provides a warehouse automation solution featuring reliable physical solutions to prevent collisions.

The large red ’emergency stop’ buttons are a final failsafe. Striking the plunger kills all movement and turns the robot from a moving agent into a static obstacle. This button is completely independent of the wider digital infrastructure, meaning no low-probability errors in the wider RCS or AMR internal software can have any effect on whether a halt is arrived at in the most important moment.

In the highly unlikely event of some kind of uncontrolled motion on the AMR’s part, the emergency stop button keeps everything in check. No training is required, no code is needed. Simply press the button, and the robot stops. Simple but effective, and sometimes when it comes to safety effective is all you need.

See the safety systems first hand

Discover how swift, secure, and safe your warehouse could become with Wise Robotics’ flexible automation solutions. To witness first-hand what this means and how it works, why not arrange a tour today. See the automation up close, discover the kinds of efficiency that are really possible, and realise that the robotics revolution isn’t coming. It’s already here.

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