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Robust.AI has announced the release of a new software suite for autonomous mobile robots called Grace. The software is named in honor of Grace Hopper, who was the first person to devise the theory of machine-independent programming languages, and who led the development of one of the first COBOL compilers, an early high-level programming language still in use today. is.
Like COBOL, Grace’s goal is to make a leap forward in robot solution programming software development and reduce the complexity of robot programming.
A modern software suite for robots
Grace is designed as a modern, no-code software solution that runs partly in the cloud and partly on the actual robotic device, in this case an autonomous mobile robot (AMR). The solution contains all possibilities to quickly and easily set up the AMR for use.
Robust.AI is primarily focused on warehouse automation, and according to Rodney Brooks, co-founder and CTO at Robust.AI, 80 percent of warehouses currently lack automation. The company believes this is a market that represents a huge opportunity, and thus an important place to start.
“Collaborative productivity will transform operational efficiency and employee engagement. We’ve developed a no-code software package called Grace to make working with robots effortless and useful. Carter is a new class of Collaborative Mobile Robot (CMR) to work of people, not just around them,” says Rodney Brooks. “We are excited to partner with the right teams to bring Grace & Carter to warehouses and other industries where we can improve the way robots work with humans.”
One of Grace’s features is the ability to easily map the warehouse environment using only a tablet with camera. Aboard an AMR, Grace allows the AMR to use cameras for observational tasks and is designed to distinguish between all things seen by the robot.
Grace, for example, perceives people differently than pillars, pallets, and even other mobile robots or forklifts. As a result, the AMR may react differently to the kinds of things it is likely to encounter. A stationary pallet will not move by itself, while a human worker can move in unexpected ways. Forklifts have certain expected behaviors in their movement, and so on.
Brooks and the Robust.AI development team have been busy developing a brand new software suite that leverages the latest technology in cameras, computing infrastructure and network connectivity.
A new collaborative mobile robot
The company also announced that it will enable a new class of AMRs it defines as Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR). Affectionately known as “Carter”, the company has developed a hardware reference design of this new CMR. Carter has omnidirectional mecanum wheels, sixteen built-in cameras and a control bar with handles.
According to Brooks, the key to this new class of mobile robots is the idea that Carter can be moved easily by simply grabbing the robot’s control bar and gently moving the robot in the direction you want it to move. Carter will respond and assist in the intended movement, regardless of how much cargo is on board the robot. This is one of the keys to collaboration.
The other key to this new class of collaborative behavior is the idea that a mobile robot must intrinsically know how to work alongside humans without having to be explicitly programmed. This should include innate behaviors such as getting out of the way when a human needs to get to the CMR workspace, or accurately predicting a human’s walking path and actively changing the direction of movement. The company has even filed a patent application specifically about robotic social interactions (USPTO 20210346557).
Robust.AI has also been added to their team of world-class industry veterans. Anthony Jules moves into the CEO role, where he will build on his decades of experience leading teams at companies such as Sapient and Redwood Robotics. Leila Takayama is recognized as one of the global experts in human-robot interaction and becomes VP of HRI & Design. Kavitha Velusamy joins as SVP of Engineering and has delivered a number of industry-defining products, including the Amazon Echo and Cisco’s first Telepresence system. John Moretti also joins Robust.AI as Head of Product, bringing expertise and experience from his work at Dishcraft Robotics and Wonder Workshop.