Service Robots Case Studies

BlueBotics, Switzerland - IFR-Partner

BlueBotics tackles the industrial market with strong partners

With its autonomous navigation technology (ANT®), BlueBotics SA is setting new standards in mobile robotics and pioneering progress towards safe interaction between man and machine. The Lausanne-based ideas workshop is now taking on partnerships to specifically target the industrial market, as shown by the example of Paquito, a cooperative venture with Italian firm Esatroll.

For robots to be useful to humans, they need to be able to navigate and move around autonomously within dynamic environments, negotiate unpredictable obstacles without risk of collision, and be easy to combine with all types of IT logistics solutions. A response to all these needs has now arrived in the form of ANT®, the Autonomous Navigation Technology system from BlueBotics. The system equips service robots which guide visitors through exhibitions, platforms with high safety standards which - working together with human beings - transport goods between automated storage facilities, or even NesbotTM, a Nespresso Blends serving robot developed for research purposes in collaboration with Nestlé Nespresso SA. In April 2007, this clever little fellow was a finalist for the Invention & Entrepreneurship Award of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). As a spin-off from the Federal Institute of Technology (EPF) in Lausanne, BlueBotics always has its finger on the pulse of the latest research findings for new developments. Thus, for example, in spring 2007 Dr Pierre Lamon, Scientific Director of BlueBotics, received the Georges Giralt PhD Award from EURON, the European Robotics Research Network, for his 2005 thesis on "3D position tracking for all-terrain robots".

This expertise is being put to use, for example, in Shrimp III, a development platform for outdoor navigation. Weighing around 5 kg, this six-wheeled vehicle can negotiate steps or difficult terrain effortlessly thanks to its passive configuration.  This makes it suitable for use in firefighting, remote inspection, rescue operations or space applications such as those of the Rover ExoMars constructed for the European Space Agency (ESA) for which BlueBotics supplied most of the components.

The ideal companion for transport and logistics tasks is the MB835 mobile base. It can navigate autonomously in a highly dynamic environment, such as that of goods transportation between automated storage facilities or production and assembly lines where human beings are also at work. The ERA-5/1 mobile arm fills the gap in the market for "embeddable" robotic arms and is extraordinarily light, safe and energy efficient.

Another mobile base is the AMV-1 Autonomous Mobile Vehicle. Depending on the type of objects requiring transport, a variety of transport modules can be attached to the base. The AMV-1 can also be used as an autonomously mobile wheelchair, for example in rehabilitation centres and hospitals, where it can carry both patients and materials.

Equipped with BlueBotics' autonomous navigation technology (ANT®), Paquito has a load capacity of 1'200 kg, can manage pallets of up to 2.2 m in height and navigates safely through buildings at a speed of 1.3 m/sec.

BlueBotics is moving even closer to the pulse of the industry through its partnership with Italian company Esatroll. The latter has supplied BlueBotics with a low-cost industrial forklift truck which is already being used successfully in Italy. The Lausanne-based developers have equipped the truck with their ANT® autonomous navigation technology. Paquito, this industrial whiz-kid has a load capacity of 1'200 kg, can manage pallets of up to 2.2 m in height and glide safely through buildings at a speed of 1.3 m/sec. The first videos of Paquito and the AMV-1 can be seen at go.automation in Basel, where BlueBotics is making a joint appearance with the Swiss Mobile Robotics Consortium.


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