AMR provider Seegrid Corporation, and simulation software provider Applied Intuition have partnered to advance the use of software simulation tools in order to accelerate AMR projects and improve the software development cycle.
There are three primary uses cases for simulation in the AMR ecosystem:
1. Simulation is required during the sales process to quickly and easily demonstrate feasibility of an specific AMR configuration for a new application. In this use case, simulation helps determine how many vehicles are required to support the throughput and efficiency of the application. Customer facilities can be modeled in a simulated world to create a feasible demonstration environment. This helps to shorten the sales cycle and improve customer satisfaction.
2. During development, the engineering team for an AMR provider can use simulation to test new software and algorithms quickly, without the need to setup a physical test environment. This helps to reduce the development cycle and improve overall quality of the product.
3. The support team can also benefit from simulation tools to quickly evaluate a given customer incident and determine potential work-arounds and/or to help in root cause analysis. This helps to shorten the support cycle and improve SLA targets.
Simulation entered the picture a couple of years ago, and many vendors built their own simulation environments from scratch. Independently, Amazon Web Services and the Amazon Robotics group have developed and marketing tools such as AWS Robomaker.
By partnering with a leading software simulation provider, Seegrid is looking to accelerate the capabilities of simulated work environments and to deliver state of the art simulation tools.
Seegrid is focusing first on developing its simulation tools to be used by the Seegrid development team. Seegrid relies on vision guidance for navigation and localization of its AMRs. In the partnership with Applied intuition, Seegrid is able to simulate sensor data, and quickly test software in a variety of different situations. This will shorten the development cycle and enable Seegrid to deliver higher quality solutions.
“Applied Intuition’s platform simulates a wide range of environments, layering in different conditions to safely pressure test next generation ideas in autonomous vehicle technology,” said Peter Ludwig, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of Applied Intuition. “Manufacturing and distribution facilities are a complex, highly dynamic operational design domain—we’re thrilled to collaborate with industry leader Seegrid to help enable the rapid acceleration of the growing AMR market.”
“Consumer demand and a shrinking labor force are putting pressure on nearly every industry, and in turn, putting pressure on AMRs to effectively and consistently interpret and respond to ever-changing situations,” said Jim Rock, Seegrid’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our customers rely on Seegrid to deliver industry leading automation solutions that can safely ensure productivity—highly advanced simulation during ideation, test, and development speeds up our ability to deliver next generation AMRs best equipped to address the unpredictable events in facility workflows.”
In May 2021, Seegrid announced the formation of its Blue Labs. “Blue Lab’s team of talented researchers anticipate quickly revealing additional pathways to transform material handling for incorporation into Seegrid AMR and software solutions,” said Todd Graves, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Seegrid. “With a team of the best innovators in mobile automation, we have the vision, ambition, and expertise to make our customers even more competitive in their ability to meet demand.”
Simulation is one area of engineering that many AMR companies are racing to develop as quality simulation is becoming a necessary engineering, sales and support tool.
Development Use Cases
Seegrid builds multiple autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) including Palion Lift, Palion Pallet Truck, and Palion Tow Tractor. Seegrid will leverage Applied’s testing tools, Simian, Spectral, Orbis, and Meridian, to test its AMR products in virtual environments. Applied’s testing software platform will enable Seegrid to quickly validate product innovations in more environments and use cases across the supply chain than feasible with manual testing.
The two companies are focusing on the following development use cases.
- Sensor placement: Spectral will help Seegrid test the virtual placement, evaluation, and iteration of various sensor layouts on future Palion AMRs. Spectral’s simulated sensors are accurately modeled in collaboration with the sensor providers, and have been refined with physical evaluation of real world sensor data to cover any unexpected anomalies.
- Multi-robot autonomy validation: Applied’s software tools provide critical validation testing and workflows for Palion AMRs. The tools allow Seegrid engineers to create scenarios and turn them into test cases with pass/fail evaluation criteria, and run scenario tests with tens or even hundreds of robots. Other simulation tools in the market tend to focus on sensor data generation for experimentation and model training while they fall short on production-grade validation testing and workflows.
- Articulated robot control: Palion AMRs must safely interact with objects in highly dynamic environments they operate in. For example, they must correctly detect pallets and lift, haul, or place them onto various surfaces. Applied’s simulation platform allows Seegrid to accurately simulate robot articulation and manipulation as part of the company’s extensive testing process