A mobile robot equipped with a robot arm is an autonomous machine able to navigate its surroundings and perform complex tasks assisted by an articulated arm.
It offers advanced perceptual capabilities, including vision and environmental sensing, for safely navigating complex and unpredictable environments. And users can equip its robot arm with various tools to perform specific tasks.
These versatile 2-in-1 robots can be helpful in a wide variety of applications, in fields ranging from agriculture and manufacturing to scientific research, exploration and surveillance, and resource extraction.
Research and laboratories
Mobile robots fitted with robot arms are becoming increasingly common in research and laboratories because they are versatile, meticulous, and can perform repetitive and complex tasks. For example, they can manage:
- Sample handling and collection: mobile robots equipped with robot arms can manipulate cells, tissues and liquids in a laboratory, collect samples, and take them to the appropriate handling area.
- Environmental monitoring: they can also safely detect leaks of chemicals and other hazardous substances.
- Data analysis: when equipped with sensors, they can collect scientific data (temperature, pressure and air or water composition) for use in environmental studies or to monitor climate change.
Universities can use them to teach programming and robotics to students.
Logistics and distribution
Hybrid mobile robots are increasingly popular in logistics and distribution to automate certain tasks, reduce costs and increase process efficiency. They are particularly suitable for order picking, packing and shipping tasks in distribution centres.
Amazon: a pioneer in warehouse automation
In 2019, Amazon chose to introduce some 4,000 robots among its employees at the distribution centre in Brétigny-sur-Orge.
Why? To reduce delivery times, increase productivity and relieve employees.
One example is the mobile Robo-Stow robot, which has an automated arm designed to lift and move heavy goods at Amazon’s warehouses. It can stack and unpack pallets.
By automating warehouse tasks, Amazon hopes to dispatch in 12 hours instead of 24, and ultimately deliver products to customers on the very day of ordering. The e-commerce giant is also planning to create fully automated warehouses.
The future is looking particularly rosy for mobile robots equipped with robot arms. Advances in robotics technology, artificial intelligence and sensors are making them increasingly powerful and versatile.
- Reduced environmental impact: these 2-in-1 robots can help reduce recourse to pesticides and fertilisers by allowing more precise and targeted use of such products. They can also reduce the number of vehicles needed to carry out agricultural tasks and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Surgery and radiology: for some years now, surgical robots have been making their way into hospitals and are used for complex surgical operations. In 2023, Lyon’s HCL Hospital will have 12 robots, including Epione, an innovative French creation that helps track down cancer tumours. It holds a lot of promise and should allow radiologists to perform increasingly complex surgery on tumours not currently treated.
- Space exploration: mobile robots are used also to explore unknown surfaces, including the moon and Mars (see Mars Exploration Rover). In the future, such robots may also be able to explore planets and celestial bodies, assemble complex structures in orbit, and assist astronauts on space missions.
Génération Robots, an integrator and designer of mobile robots with robot arms
Our Génération Robots engineering team can design solutions based on your specifications.
Customer case study: University of Fribourg
Recently, our engineers integrated 4 omnidirectional mobile robots with collaborative arms on telescopic columns, the aim being to create a robotic-assisted tool for performing domestic tasks, particularly for the elderly and people with reduced mobility.
ScoutSan mobile robot
ScoutSan is a mobile manipulator robot assembled by Génération Robots composed of an AgileX mobile platform and a Doosan Robotics robot arm that can be used for research projects and remote manipulation tasks. It’s a teleoperated robot that users can equip with sensors to help them move around autonomously.
Génération Robots is an official distributor of Boston Dynamics and Unitree Robotics, two major players in quadruped robots. Both brands offer robot dogs compatible with a robot arm:
- The Spot Arm from Boston Dynamics is designed for carrying loads, moving objects and performing maintenance tasks in warehouses and distribution centres.
- Z1 from Unitree Robotics is a robot arm compatible with the Aliengo and B1 quadruped robots. It is suitable for industrial settings, for example logistics, and for simple tasks like picking up objects, opening and closing doors, fastening screws, etc.
The examples in this article demonstrate the significant advantages of using mobile robots with robot arms for many different types of work. They can perform tasks found repetitive, hazardous and difficult by humans, and have become valuable tools in many industries. They can also operate autonomously, or with minimal human intervention, to perform tasks even more efficiently and safely.
Advances in robotics, AI and automation technologies show a lot of promise and could ultimately revolutionise many aspects of our lives and society.