The OTTO OMEGA is here
September 11, 2018 – OTTO Motors has exciting news today with the launch of an entirely new autonomous lift truck. This vehicle leverages all of the intelligence and navigation capabilities of the OTTO Motors software platform in a new form factor. An autonomous lift truck has been on the OTTO roadmap for a while and this vehicle has been in development for 18 months.
“The OTTO OMEGA is a step function in capability and has the most advanced controls of any autonomous vehicle in this form factor”, said Matt Rendall, CEO of Clearpath (OTTO Motors parent company).
The OTTO OMEGA was born out of collaboration with an existing manual fork truck manufacturer. This provided an established base platform from which the autonomous control could be overlaid. The vehicle retains a human driving platform which allows for both manual operation and manual over-ride.
“Today’s plant managers have to keep busy factory floors operating quickly and efficiently without ever sacrificing worker safety,” said Rendall. “As hard as they try, humans are prone to mistakes, but self-driving vehicles like OTTO OMEGA remove that potential for human error without sacrificing efficiency.”
OTTO expects the vehicle to be used initially in two key applications: autonomous floor-to-floor deliveries and semi-autonomous mode where workers can take over complex loading or unloading tasks. In autonomous mode, OTTO OMEGA can pick up and drop off skids, receive items to be put away, deliver parts to lineside, perform cross docking, and transport trash – everything from storage to shipping. In semi-autonomous mode, OTTO OMEGA lets workers take over to manage loading and unloading pallet deliveries, including onto trailers and racks.
OMEGA will be capable of identifying a pallet on the floor, calculating a safe approach path and then autonomously driving to acquire the pallet for movement or transfer. In addition, OMEGA benefits from all of the currently autonomous navigation capabilities that OTTO has developed for its existing lineup of autonomous mobile robots.
OMEGA can learn new skills
Rendall went into detail on one of the unique features for this new platform: “skills”. Skills are conceptually similar to Alexa skills (the Amazon Echo device), in that a skill enables the robot to perform a new specific task or operation. OTTO has a “skills roadmap” that will be developed and released over time as OMEGA is deployed into operations. Skills will be downloadable to the OMEGA robot so that it is able to perform the new operations.
At release, OMEGA will ship with two skills:
- Autonomous floor-to-floor pallet transport
- Collaboration mode
Autonomous floor-to-floor pallet movement
With this skill, OMEGA will be able to locate and acquire a pallet on the floor, pick it up, and transport it to a drop off location somewhere else in the facility. Rendell clarified that this is a floor-to-floor pallet movement operation. OMEGA will eventually be able to pick from the floor and lift/place to a shelf in a warehouse. However, initially this shelf placement skill has not been completely developed. An OMEGA robot could autonomously acquire a full pallet from the loading dock and then present itself to a human operator for the final placement of a pallet on a shelf in a warehouse aisle. OTTO is looking for initial customers to help it develop the shelf placement skill.
The collaboration skill will be available out-of-the box, to enable OMEGA to collaborate with the OTTO 1500 vehicle. All OTTO vehicles in a facility are managed by a central fleet management solution. As a result, deploying an OMEGA list truck together with an OTTO 1500 will allow the OMEGA to work in the loading lock, acquire pallets off the floor and transfer them collaboratively to an OTTO 1500 robot for a long haul transfer within the facility. The idea of a collaboration between an OMEGA and an OTTO 1500 makes sense since an OTTO 1500 can move faster than the OMEGA over long distances.
The future of skills
OTTO expects to deliver new skills in the future as OMEGA is deployed into operations. On the roadmap are skills which will cover operations such as:
- Rack loading and unloading
- Conveyor interfacing (pickup / dropoff)
- Staging buffers
- Trailer loading / unloading
Announcement at IMTS 2018
OTTO is demonstrating OTTO OMEGA on the floor of the International Manufacturing Technology Show this week in Chicago. Attendees can visit booth #121424 in East Building, Level 2, to see OMEGA in action.