AI News, Fetch Robotics Introduces Fetch and Freight: Your Warehouse Is Now Automated

Fetch Robotics Introduces Fetch and Freight: Your Warehouse Is Now Automated

As of just a few months ago, all we knew about Fetch Robotics was that the core team from Unbounded Robotics, all of whom had been at Willow Garage before that, were working on not just one but two brand new robots designed to tackle the logistics market.

Amazon, of course, has its own private fleet of robots that can bring shelves to people, but using these robots (from Kiva Systems) requires reconfiguring the warehouse with special shelving and adding other infrastructure.

Warehouses are structured environments, which helps, but you’ve still got an enormous amount of variability in products to be picked, long distances to traverse, aggressive uptime requirements,humans to avoid accidentally murderizing, and on top of it all, robots have to be either more cost effective than people, or they have to augment an existing human workforce to make them more efficient.

Because at some point, we have to be as fast as people, or faster.” Fetch Robotics’ system uses a relatively large and capable mobile manipulator (Fetch) to pick items off of warehouse shelves, while Freight, a mobile base, acts as an autonomous cargo delivery cart.

Freight can also be used by itself, following human pickers around a warehouse (using no beacons, only vision), meaning that they don’t have to push carts around and also that they don’t have to keep going back and forth to deliver items that they pick.

What seems likely is that safe and robustautonomous navigation has just not ever come together in a robot that’s cost-effective enough to be used in this context, but that’s one of the key differentiators with both Fetch and Freight: they’re (relatively) affordable.

Despite the large payload, Wise says that it’s still low power enough to be safe for humans to work around, and the robot’s software includes the ability to detect any collisions and stop the arm immediately.

The gripper ismodular with an ISO standard interface, and includes a dedicated Ethernet connection so that you can swap it out for something that includes a camera for up-close vision, or any other sensor you’d find useful.

As Wise commented earlier, the big advantage that Freight has over Fetch is speed: right now, it can comfortably hit 2 meters per second, although it’s possible to crank it up to 3 m/s.

The problem, Wise told us, is that in a warehouse implementation, you’ll need to invest in a software and hardware system consisting of multiple robots, so a per-robot pricetag wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate.

We’re not sure how much Lynx costs, but we are almost certain that it’s more (perhaps way more) than $33,333.32, and Wise says that in terms of core capabilities, Freight and Lynx are “essentially very, very similar.” Wise seems confident that Fetch Robotics is going to be able to ship both of their robots in Q2 of this year, just like they promised back in February.

The company is currently at 13employees (plus 5 summer interns)and trying to grow as fast as possible(they encourage you to apply here), but Wise was willing to give us a glimpse at what they’re thinking about for the future: We envision the robot being able to learn new capabilities, like kitting, or other static tasks, like light assembly, but those are later down the road for the robots.

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