Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The OmniMate: New Robotic Pallet Is A Whiz At Navigation

Date:
March 12, 1999
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
Innovative new robot developed by Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan navigates the same way. Rather than using sensors to detect signposts along its path or following a wire in the floor, OmniMate uses very precise odometers on four of its 12 wheels to figure distance and direction.

ANN ARBOR---Without signposts in the open ocean or a reliable way to take reference points from the stars, ancient mariners navigated by what is known as "dead reckoning," figuring out where you are by mapping the distance and direction you've traveled.

An innovative new robot developed by the Mobile Robotics Lab at the University of Michigan navigates the same way. Rather than using sensors to detect signposts along its path or following a wire in the floor, the OmniMate uses very precise odometers on four of its 12 wheels to figure distance and direction.

The OmniMate is sort of a smart pallet, supporting a flat 3-foot-by-6-foot platform on its back. "The current model can carry 250 pounds, but the next-generation OmniMate could handle up to 1,000," Johann Borenstein said.

"Any production plant that needs to move materials can use the OmniMate," he added. "Specifically in our area, the three big car makers would be interested." One OmniMate is currently being tested at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Machining Systems at the U-M.

OmniMate comes from a family of robots known as Automated Guided Vehicles, or AGVs. Unlike most existing AGVs, however, OmniMate can move in any direction including sideways, diagonally, or rotating on the spot.

The existing AGVs can be confused by traveling over bumps or slick spots on the floor. So they rely on beacons, markers, or guide-wires in the environment to maintain their bearings. But those kinds of systems add cost and installation problems to the robotic system. OmniMate should be able to overcome those requirements with its superior navigation, and will be simpler and cheaper to operate because it won't require installation of all the guidewires and beacons, Borenstein said.

The robot features a several new devices which set it apart from earlier AGVs.

--A patented "compliant linkage" prevents excessive wheel slippage during maneuvers. This device also ensures that OmniMate's dead-reckoning odometers are not misled by bumps or slick spots on the floor.

--A patented "Internal Position Error Correction" system checks odometer readings from four of the wheels against each other.

--A fiber-optic gyroscope helps the OmniMate stay on course over extended distances.

"As a result, the OmniMate's dead-reckoning is almost completely insensitive to even severe bumps, cracks, or low obstacles on the floor," Borenstein said.

Because of its extraordinary dead-reckoning accuracy, the OmniMate can negotiate long, pre-programmed paths fully automatically. And the programming is quite simple. The U-M researchers have developed a "lead-through" teaching system which uses a joystick device. An operator guides the OmniMate along a desired path only once while the OmniMate commits its movements to memory. Then, the robot can follow the path accurately by itself. Changing its path takes only a few minutes.

Helpmate Robotics Inc. of Danbury, Conn., co-developer of the OmniMate, has already manufactured three commercial prototypes of the system.

Borenstein, an associate research scientist in the U-M's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, won Discover magazine's 1998 Discover Award, in the robotics category, for his invention, the GuideCane, a robotic walking stick for the blind. The awards honor "men and women whose creative genius improves the quality of our everyday life and alerts us to what's next from the frontiers of human achievement and ingenuity."

* * * * * * * * * *

EDITORS: For a photo and schematic of the robot, visit Borenstein's lab on the Web: http://www-personal.engin.umich.edu/~johannb/OmniMate_News/OmniMate_News_Release.html

# # # # # #


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "The OmniMate: New Robotic Pallet Is A Whiz At Navigation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990311121145.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (1999, March 12). The OmniMate: New Robotic Pallet Is A Whiz At Navigation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990311121145.htm
University Of Michigan. "The OmniMate: New Robotic Pallet Is A Whiz At Navigation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990311121145.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Teen's Phone Ignites Under Her Pillow; How Real Is The Risk?

Newsy (July 28, 2014) A Texas teen's Samsung phone apparently ignited while she slept, but what was the real problem here? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Cellphone Unlocking Bill Clears U.S. House, Heads to Obama

Reuters - US Online Video (July 27, 2014) Congress gets rid of pesky law that made it illegal to "unlock" mobile phones without permission, giving consumers the option to use the same phone on a competitor's wireless network. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Congress OKs Unlocking Phones From Carriers

Newsy (July 26, 2014) A bill legalizing "unlocking," or untethering a phone from its default wireless carrier, has passed Congress and is expected to be signed into law. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins