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ABB invests in 3D navigation start-up to guide future AMRs

22 November, 2021

ABB is taking a stake in a Swiss start-up that has developed a technology that allows mobile robots to navigate autonomously through complex, dynamic indoor and outdoor environments close to people and other objects. The company, Sevensense Robotics, founded in 2018 as a spin-off from the ETH Zurich university, uses AI (artificial intelligence) and 3D mapping technologies that are claimed to be more accurate than today’s 2D systems, and resulting in navigation that is more cost-effective than systems based on laser scanners.

ABB’s partnership with Sevensense is part of its strategy to develop the next generation of flexible automation technologies and to expand its robotics and automation portfolio, following its acquisition in July of the Spanish AMR (autonomous mobile robot) manufacturer, ASTI Mobile Robotics.

“Building on our acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics earlier this year, our partnership with Sevensense is another milestone in our efforts to fully unlock flexible automation for our customers,” says Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation. “Integrating Sevensense’s AI and 3D mapping technology with our AMR offering will help accelerate the replacement of today’s linear production lines with fully flexible networks.

“Our vision of the future workplace,” he adds, “is one in which AMRs move materials, parts and finished products between smart workstations in increasingly unstructured, dynamic work environments. Our partnership with Sevensense is an important step in realising that vision.”

ABB picked Sevensense as a partner based on its performance in a Robotics Innovation Challenge which evaluated the performance of visual Slam (simultaneous localisation and mapping) technologies from developers around the world. Sevensense employs 25 people and offers 3D Slam systems for applications ranging from forklifts to cleaning machines.

The Sevensense navigation technology uses advanced computer vision and AI algorithms to create a 3D map that is more accurate than today’s 2D systems. It allows AMRs to interpret their environments, identify people, pallets or other robots, and make decisions autonomously to navigate around them. ABB says this will result in safer human-machine interactions and ensure material flows around factories and warehouses are safe and efficient for maximum flexibility and productivity.

Integrating Sevensense’s AI and navigation technology into ABB’s mobile robots will allow them to work in more dynamic, unstructured environments

“Partnering with ABB lays the foundation for a long-term collaboration, while retaining our complete independence as a business,” says Sevensense’s CEO, Gregory Hitz. “It allows us to mutually benefit from our expertise and create the best product for all of our customers in the long run. At the same time, the investment by ABB gives us planning security. We are very much looking forward to lifting our technology to a global scale and establishing Sevensense at the top of AI-supported vision and navigation companies globally.”

ABB is making a minority investment in Sevensense through ABB Technology Ventures. It expects this to close by the end of November 2021. It then plans to integrate Sevensense’s soft- and hardware technology into its AMRs, with pilot projects planned for 2022.

ABB Robotics:  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

Sevensense RoboticsTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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