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Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs): Verizon and incubed IT

  • Apr 9, 2021

By Chris Ehrlich

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — Verizon is acquiring a maker of software for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), incubed IT.

Verizon entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Graz, Austria-based incubed IT, according to Verizon last month.

Incubed IT’s software allows users to administer, manage and optimize mixed fleets of robots in industrial settings.

As Verizon expands its 5G coverage, capacity and mobile edge compute capabilities, the software by incubed IT will enable enterprise customers to gain new efficiencies as they scale their AMR fleets.

The incubed IT team will continue to drive development, sales and support for its customers and products across an impressive fleet of diversified robotic partners.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Incubed IT’s employees will join the Verizon New Business Incubation team, whose mission is to scale new automation businesses, fueled by the orchestration power of 5G. 

New Business Incubation works to accelerate the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines through the orchestration of platforms and services supporting Industry 4.0.

The division is working to validate and develop some of the "most transformative" technologies, from terrestrial and aerial robots to location tech and industrial Internet of Things (IoT).

“This acquisition further demonstrates Verizon’s commitment to developing new and innovative businesses and use cases leveraging the power of 5G,” said Rima Qureshi, Verizon’s chief strategy officer. 

“Mobile robot orchestration is a real and emerging challenge faced by enterprises today. By integrating incubed IT’s autonomous software with Verizon’s 5G platform, we will have the ability to power robotic automation at scale. This will create new opportunities for enterprise customers to better and more effectively monitor and optimize their business processes.”

Incubed IT’s CEO, Stephan Gspandl, said the company is "proud of all the incubed IT team has accomplished to get us to this point.”

“We look forward to expanding on our successes and capabilities,” Gspandl said. 

“By joining the Verizon team, we have the opportunity to bring our software to broader audiences and to help create the future of robotic automation.”

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)

An AMR can “understand and move through its environment without being overseen directly by an operator,” according to Conveyco. 

AMRs interpret their environment to function as asynchronous transportation through on-board sensors, computers and maps, Conveyco says.

AMRs are used for performing a variety of automation tasks: for instance, they ferry purchases shipment; replace forklifts, pulling 1,000-kg payloads around a factory; move products between conveyor belts; and clean floors, according to the Robotic Industries Association.

They offer several benefits, such as preventing product damage, reducing labor costs, enhancing productivity and automating processes.

autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in warehouse distribution center moving packages

Incubed IT’s AMR solutions and features

Incubed IT’s AMR software enables robots to localize and navigate autonomously and can be easily integrated into nearly any mobile robot. 

“Incubed IT’s next-generation software and autonomous fleet management server are foundational components for the future of terrestrial robotics,” said Elise Neel, VP of Verizon New Business Incubation. 

“When we combine incubed IT’s capabilities with the reliability, responsiveness and vast capabilities of Verizon’s 5G platform, we will enable faster, less expensive and more effective adoption of robotic automation for enterprises everywhere.”

Incubed IT has three core offerings:

Smart Shuttle Navigation Toolkit

This software enables AMRs to localize and navigate autonomously can be integrated into most mobile robots.

Integration

A standardized UDP based interface enables fast integration into new or existing robot platforms

Localization technology

Simultaneous localization and mapping using laser scan data

Autonomous navigation

No need to specify transport paths up front

Traffic management

Smart solutions to avoid delays and increase throughput, including with a high number of shuttles

VDA/VDMA 5050

The standard interface for autonomous mobile robots and fleet management systems

Fleet management server

The central fleet management server (FMS) acts as gateway between the shuttle fleet and the outside world. It also serves as a coordinating service to optimize the traffic flow within a fleet of AMRs. It is the central point for business processes carried out by the fleet of robots and offers a graphical user interface to interact with the fleet.

Central configuration

All setup and configuration data is stored and distributed by the fleet management system and distributed to the fleet when necessary. It is the single point of software version management. It distributes software updates among the fleet with "one-click installation."

Traffic optimization

The fleet management server helps the fleet to coordinate its driving behavior. It acts as a traffic adviser.

Custom processes and interfaces

To offer a broad set of use cases, the task that robots carry out can be heavily customized.

Optimal task scheduling

Based on multiple input factors such as traveling distance or battery status, the fleet management system allocates the best fitting shuttle to the next set of tasks.

Cloud ready

All software services of the fleet management system are built to be cloud ready. An installation of the FMS can be used on-premises and in any customers cloud environment.

Data monitoring and analytics

Near real-time monitoring and advanced reporting, A web-based interface that is designed with any device in mind is used to configure and observe the fleet of autonomous mobile robots.

Incubed IT’s AMR benefits

AMRs offer industrial users several key benefits in warehouse, production and e-commerce applications, according to Incubed IT:

Retrofitting

Retrofittable and easy to implement: No constructional changes are necessary — instant deployment

Flexibility

AMRs navigate freely and move around obstacles in real-time

Safety

Safety certifications allow mixed operations with humans and machines next to manual processes

Scalability

Additional robots can be added effortlessly to existing fleet upon request

AMR market

The global autonomous mobile robots market size was valued at USD 1.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6% from 2020 to 2027, according to Grand View Research.

AMR companies

A number of companies are in the AMR market, according to Grand View Research:

  • ABB

  • Bleum

  • Boston Dynamics

  • Clearpath Robotics

  • GreyOrange

  • Harvest Automation

  • IAM Robotics

  • inVia Robotics

  • Kuka AG

  • Teradyne

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