The consumer buying trend toward greater use of e-commerce represents a fundamental shift in the retail ecosystem. Even before the global pandemic accelerated the shift in consumer behavior, e-commerce revenue was expected to grow from 3.98 percent of global retail revenue in 2012 to 26.01 percent in 2025. Countless people now struggle to physically go out and obtain necessities, so that number is rising even faster.
E-commerce has created a tremendous demand for automation to help optimize operations and order fulfillment in warehouses and distribution centers all over the world. For the past decade or so, collaborative robotic arms—arms that work safely around people—have played a critical part in automating manufacturing processes. Now, collaborative autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have entered manufacturing plants and warehouses to optimize internal logistics.
Witnessing this rising demand for autonomous mobility in warehouses and collaborative robotic arms in manufacturing, IAM Robotics introduced a special AMR to the market in 2016: Swift™, an autonomous mobile manipulation robot , which could both move and pick products. We went on to receive a patent on October 10, 2017 for our technology that enables our robots to autonomously navigate human-friendly environments, identify the location of objects and pick individual items or bins. But we were far from finished with our mission of automating warehouse operations. Meet Bolt™, our latest robotic innovation.
Bolt™ is an AMR Built for Collaboration
Having mastered autonomous navigation, large battery capacities and other advanced technologies with Swift™, IAM Robotics is bringing this same know-how to our newest autonomous mobile robot: Bolt™. As a collaborative AMR, Bolt™ is designed to work with and around people for handling and transporting materials within and between zones inside a traditional warehouse environment. In executing tasks, Bolt™ employs proprietary technology that we’ve leveraged from our extensive experience in AMR development—bringing features unlike anything else in the industry.
Gearbox-Driven v. Direct-Drive Wheels
The gearbox-driven technology used in other AMRs has its limitations, so we’ve developed our own solution with direct-drive wheels to deliver much-needed safety capabilities. This direct connection provides for more sensitive force feedback, detecting lighter forces from any unintended collision. Also, the direct connection instantly transfers that response back to the motors that directly drive the wheels, thereby stopping the robot more quickly and reliably. Further, our direct-drive wheel technology allows easy movement of the robot—even when it’s stopped or powered down.
Bolt™ employs multiple synchronized state-of-the-art sensors, providing an unobstructed 360-degree field of view for obstacle detection and avoidance. Plus, the direct-drive wheel technology means the entire body of the robot (not just a few select areas) acts as a bump sensor to maximize safety in collaborative applications.
These safety features allow Bolt™ to offer the same type of power-force-torque limiting that made collaborative robotic arms essential for manufacturers. Collaborative arms became an essential commodity when business leaders saw it could be safely used alongside human workers, and Bolt™’s unique architecture enables it to do just that.
Safety Features Unique to Bolt™
AMR safety requirements and guidelines are gradually being set, and discussions are still ongoing. However, at IAM Robotics, we believe the way Bolt™ is built enables us to address the growing demand for collaborative AMRs better than the competition.
Movement and safety aside, other features set Bolt™ above its competition:
- Ability to move gracefully at speeds up to 2 meters per second
- Industry-leading docking speed in 5 seconds or less
- Continuous runtime up to 20 hours on a single charge
- Autonomous battery charging
- Patented hot-swappable battery, easily replaced in 10 seconds or less
- Largest payload capacity in its size class at 300 kilograms
- Flexible top module interface for multiple payload options
- Intended to be modular to allow for scalability as needed
Top Module Customization
Bolt™ can be customized with interchangeable top modules to maximize its precision, scale and functionality to meet material handling needs, taking Bolt’s™ capabilities even further. A variety of standard top modules are available, including an option for handling dual totes measuring up to 600 by 800 millimeters each. Bolt™ integrates with conveyors and can collaborate with and support other existing automation technologies, both for conveyance and sortation.
Choose Bolt™ for Enhanced Warehouse Operations
Bolt™ is the AMR you’ve been waiting for, a collaborative material handling partner that will easily scale with your business needs and integrate seamlessly with your people and legacy automation. All these features together allow Bolt™ to do more and move more, faster, longer and safer. Couple that with its surprising affordability and easy deployment, and you’ll experience immediate benefits by adding a fleet of Bolt™ robots to your business.