AMRs or autonomous mobile robots have been designed and developed to navigate their surroundings without human supervision. AMRs use sensors to gather data from the environments and process that data to derive meaningful information that helps them reach autonomy.
This data helps AMRs to make real-time decisions. The engineers and developers use this environmental data, plus the data generated internally by the AMR, to make necessary adjustments.
Hence, the emphasis on the quality of data sent by the sensors is significant for the AMR to function correctly. Let’s find out how sensor data plays a critical role in improving the many functions of AMRs.
An autonomous robot has to make several decisions per second based on the data it receives from multiple streams. Without reliable data from the sensors, the robot's decision-making process will get clouded. Indeed, there are failsafe measures to render the AMR in a safe state when it detects erroneous signals. However, the entire point of introducing autonomous robots is to streamline the work process with minimal interruptions. Therefore, it is vital to ensure the integrity of the data transmitted from the sensors.
The essential facets of a sensor system that enables data transmission and data processing include:
An AMR may contain several sensors, each serving a distinct function. All these sensors, in turn, are managed by a central processing system. In this complex network, the readability of data plays a critical role when a system needs to handle multiple data streams.
For accuracy, the data generated by the sensors must not get corrupted on its way from the actual sensor to the processing unit from factors like electrical noise, low-quality wires, etc. In case the data is transmitted wirelessly, issues like congestion and unstable communication can cause the data to lose readability.
Ensuring good readability starts with the design process itself. The placement of the sensors and the environment they will be operated in play an important part in ensuring readability.
The information received from the sensors goes through a storage buffer before processing. This helps to keep the data ready for processing from the multiple streams.
The storage quality also plays a crucial role in ensuring data reliability. Most importantly, the amount of storage availability matters since the CPU will not be able to register pending data if the space runs out. Unfortunately, this will also mean a loss of data, directly affecting the robot’s decision-making ability.
Another critical factor is storage speed. The CPU will access the storage for 'read' and 'write' operations. The faster the storage can respond to incoming requests, the faster the CPU will be able to read, process, and act on that data. In most cases, the storage of an autonomous robot is based on the number of sensors it has and the amount of data it needs to store.
Data accessibility is the ease with which you can access the data generated by the AMR. When the robot is programmed to perform a specific task, a standard practice is to record certain data to evaluate the behavior and performance of the robot.
For example, an AMR working in a warehouse will record its path for each operation, the amount of inventory it interacted with, events where it faced an obstacle, and several other metrics. It is critical to access this data so that you can measure the effectiveness of your autonomous robot and make changes to its programming, if necessary.
As discussed, there are several parts to maintaining data integrity and ensuring the effective functioning of autonomous robots. However, at the core of all this is to have a good quality sensor.
Embedding your AMR with the right sensor in the first place will have a direct positive influence on getting accurate data. With the availability of accurate data, your robot will be capable of performing tasks it is designed for more effectively and efficiently.
At Hokuyo, we manufacture high-performance sensors designed specifically for demanding autonomous robotics applications. Explore our range of sensor products for AMRs, or get in touch with us today to get assistance in selecting the correct sensor for your next AMR project.