Autonomous mobile robots that work safely to boost mobility and productivity

Autonomous and mobile robots make operations run more smoothly and create greater efficiencies. For example, automating the transfer of a load from point A to point B allows for employees to do other tasks of greater value. The goal of SHERPA MOBILE ROBOTICS (SMR) is to integrate mobile robots that work safely in the immediate vicinity of operators and machines.

SMR’s newest customizable autonomous mobile robots (AMR) provide customers with solutions for absolutely every scenario. The first AMR transports pallets and has a load bearing capacity of up to one ton, and the second transports containers. But safety is of the highest priority for the developers. Which is why they reached out to SICK for help.

High safety requirements for users

To ensure the highest level of safety for the robot in its environment, SMR approached SICK. Laurent Troesch, R&D at SMR, explained the background of the collaboration.

“Initially we envisioned an architecture for the safety functions that used non-certified components (sensors, controllers, etc.), even though we were aiming for Performance Level d for most of them. We quickly noticed that such an approach would be very complex and time consuming, which would not allow the speedy market launch of a reliable series of robots,” Troesch said. “Furthermore, tailored solutions such as this are rather inflexible and are not particularly suitable for upgrading or use in future robot series. In developing our robots, we were looking instead for efficient and flexible solutions that can be quickly integrated. The exchange of ideas and support from SICK helped us a lot with this.”

Stéphane Rauline, Technical Sales Engineer at SICK France took on the challenge from SMR and got the collaboration between the two teams going. The engineers at SMR were looking for safety laser scanners and safety encoders. They decided to go with the S300 safety laser scanner and the DFS60S safety encoder. For the SHERPA-P, they are using the nanoScan3 safety laser scanner and the Flexi Soft Drive Monitor safety controller. This enables the SHERPA products to move about with absolute safety even in sometimes confined surroundings.

Competent and flexible support with mobile robots

Jeffrey Yannou, mobile applications expert at SICK France, was responsible for supporting SMR throughout the entire project. Thanks to this collaboration, a quick market launch was achieved. Renowned companies such as Siemens, Airbus, Fnac, Darty, and Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) Industrial are already using SHERPA robots. FPT Industrial in Bourbon-Lancy in the department of Saône-et-Loire is even using a whole fleet of mobile robots from SHERPA. The mobile robots are making assembly tasks easier and reducing the risk when transporting loads. Their smooth operation is also boosting productivity.

Another advantage of SHERPA robots is that they can move safely between operators, manned forklift trucks, and AGVs.

“Thanks to the integration of six robots we have gained concrete experience in fleet management in a real-life environment. We will be able to apply this new knowledge for customers who are already waiting for this type of technology,” said Damien Winling, Technical Director at SMR.

This is only the beginning of a big adventure for SHERPA and its mobile robots. They are putting their trust in the latest technologies from SICK that make the mobile robots even more efficient and safe.

Want to learn more about mobile robot solutions? Contact a SICK representative today!