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ABB to Augment Its Industrial Robots with Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Vision

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ABB has acquired Sevensense, a Swiss startup specializing in enhancing the mobility of industrial robots through the application of artificial intelligence and 3D vision. The long-term aim is to build better navigation within the company’s factories and warehouses.

Autonomous robot in a warehouse.

Autonomous robot in a warehouse. Image credit: ABB

This way, ABB is responding to the increasing need for autonomous and mobile capabilities in industrial robots.

Sevensense, headquartered in Zurich, focuses on developing sensor and AI systems, providing factory robots responsible for transporting components to production lines with the ability to perceive their surroundings and navigate through manufacturing plants.

Traditionally, robots supplying production lines were confined to following fixed magnetic strips, which were labor-intensive to install and lacked flexibility. The advent of ABB’s latest robots marks a significant departure from this model, allowing robots equipped with “eyes and a brain” to freely navigate the entire factory.

These robots, each fitted with six cameras, boast a capacity to transport 2 tons of materials at speeds reaching 1.5 meters per second. The enhanced flexibility of these robots should lead to efficient adaptation to changes in production lines, enabling tasks like adding new production cells with ease.

ABB projects robust growth in the market for autonomous mobile robots (AMR), estimating an annual expansion of approximately 20% until 2026, with the market value anticipated to rise from $5.5 billion in 2023 to $9.5 billion by 2026.

This growth rate surpasses the projected annual expansion for conventional fixed robots, where ABB foresees an 8% increase.

Autonomous robot transporting a heavy load.

Autonomous robot transporting a heavy load. Image credit: ABB

ABB’s recent acquisition of Sevensense pits it against competitors like Japan’s FANUC and Germany’s Kuka. This strategic move follows ABB’s expansion of its U.S. factory in the previous year and the acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics in 2021.

The specific financial details of the Sevensense acquisition remain undisclosed. However, the company is already actively integrating the acquired technology into its products.

Notable customers, such as automaker Ford and French tire manufacturer Michelin, have already adopted ABB’s robots equipped with Sevensense technology, with Ford purchasing 300 robots for its Tennessee plant in the United States.

Written by Alius Noreika





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