Vanderlande has joined the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and other partners to develop industrial robots that will operate with increased independence and autonomy. The project – called FAST (new Frontiers in Autonomous Systems Technology) – aims to develop mobile robots with increased flexibility, which allows them to function more effectively in environments that undergo frequent change.
Vanderlande, TU/e and other partners are co-investing € 1.5m in the research project, combined with funding support from the Topsector HTSM (TKI allowance). FAST will begin in January 2018 and is expected to run for four years with the aim of creating mobile industrial robots that can adapt rapidly to changes in their environment. This will deliver a number of advantages, for example a robot's working area would not have to be fenced off or demarcated.
This will be achieved by creating a so-called 'semantic world model', in which a robot can give meaning to its observations. By recognising specific situations and objects, it can react appropriately in any given situation. This includes making a distinction between a pallet containing goods, a group of people or a forklift truck. Robots could also be programmed to actively seek information through which they can better assess a situation to perform their tasks more effectively.
Vanderlande's participation in FAST confirms its commitment to innovation, and the applications for robotics across its core markets – and warehousing in particular. The cooperation between TU/e and its partners will enable efficient knowledge-sharing through which the development process can be accelerated. This will also help to consolidate The Netherlands' position as a global leader in the field of mobile robotics.
"Advancements in robotics are impossible to ignore in today's industrial climate," says Vanderlande's Technology Manager Fred Verstraaten. "That's why we're excited to be partnering with the Eindhoven University of Technology to explore the potential for mobile robots. It is one of the leading international centres for engineering science and technology, so we are eager to see what we can create together. The project also demonstrates Vanderlande's commitment to our customers, who look to us to create innovative solutions that help them to remain competitive."