The BMW Group launches a new logistics-focused robotics company. The new company is called IDEALworks GmbH, and will be based in Bavaria, Germany. The name component “IDEAL” stands for Industry Driven Engineering for Autonomous Logistics.
The company will focus on designing, engineering and delivering logistics solutions that are centered around autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The solution includes a full software stack including fleet management. We expect that IDEALworks will work closely with BMW Motor Group to design, deploy and optimize the solutions inside BMW factories in Germany.
“With the establishment of IDEALworks, we are opening up a new business area for our logistics solutions. In the past few years, our innovation team has dealt intensively with digitization and autonomization in production logistics and has developed unique solutions. The Smart Transport Robot STR in particular is enjoying great response and demand both within and outside the BMW Group. For the BMW Group as an innovation driver, the founding of IDEALworks GmbH is now the logical step”, explains Milan Nedeljković, Board Member for Production at BMW AG, on the occasion of the founding.
Here we can see the internal workings of the IDEALworks Smart Transport Robot, showing the basic design of the robot. (image courtesy of IDEALworks)
Starting From A Strong Base
The Smart Transport Robot STR was created in 2015 in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute. The flat, autonomous mobile robots are able to transport goods weighing up to a ton and delivery them to their destination. They calculate the ideal route independently and move freely in space using the SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) navigation method. The SLAM algorithm does not require permanently installed navigation transmitters in buildings and can therefore be used quickly in a new environment without structural adjustments. The robots use the same battery module that is found in the BMW i3. This battery supplies the STR with energy for at least one complete work shift. More than 130 STRs are currently in series production at several BMW Group production sites.
“With the Smart Transport Robot, we have a very competitive product to offer. We have been conducting pilots for companies from various industries since October 2020. The tests show how robust and versatile the STR is, explained Markus Bauer, COO IDEALworks GmbH. “The success of the pilot projects and the resulting demand for the STR were decisive for founding IDEALworks GmbH. We want to develop IDEALworks into a top player among suppliers of industrial logistics robots in the long term, ” Bauer continues.
IDEALworks is introducing a new software platform called Anyfleet. This software is designed for federated control and fleet orchestration of your entire warehouse. In both the digital and physical world the company leverages NVIDIA’s Isaac SDK for both software development and deployment, enabling them to build code optimized to run efficiently on NVIDIA hardware. In partnering with NVIDIA the company has streamlines the development of both simulation and robot guidance software. All of the software runs on NVIDIA hardware, leveraging the NVIDIA Isaac SDK for their middleware.
The company is relying heavily on simulation to help program and validate the operations of the Smart Transport Robot. This is in line with the trend across the industry to invest in fleet simulation tools to help predict and improve physical operations.
The Smart Transport Robot uses two diagonally opposed SICK Microscan3 Pro LiDARs are used to sense the surrounding environment. In addition, a LIPS AE400 stereo camera is deployed to help the robots see their surroundings while detecting obstacles. All of the sensor information is then processed by a machine learning (artificial intelligence) algorithm to help the robot make sense of the surrounding world.
For more information: https://idealworks.com
Editors note: Based on our research for this story, it would appear that the company is going through a product naming exercise. We’ve seen product references in separate press releases that refer to the Smart Transport Robot as the IW.HUB. This is the branding on the robots that are shown on the website.