Principal investigator: Philip Dames

University: Temple University

Industry partner: FRED Automation, Inc.

FRED Automation, Inc. (FAI) has a range of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that transport materials in warehouses and other indoor facilities. Currently, FAI’s AMRs primarily navigate by following a magnetic tape “roadway” laid out on the floor. The AMRs can also navigate short, straight gaps in the tape using a hardware and software add-on package recently developed by the primary investigator in collaboration with FAI. While this development reduces downtime caused by damaged tape, the material and labor costs of installing, maintaining, and updating the system are non-negligible.

This project will develop an entirely new set of capabilities for FAI’s AMRs by removing nearly all tape from the process except near areas where precise navigation is critical (e.g., loading and unloading areas, recharging stations). Two primary capabilities will enable the AMRs to autonomously navigate long distances through spaces shared with people and heavy equipment. First, an object detection, object tracking, and control pipeline will allow the AMRs to navigate without magnetic tape safely and rapidly. Second, a perception and planning pipeline will allow the AMRs to detect and smoothly enter the short tape sections at stations. The teams at FAI and Temple University will work closely together to validate these solutions in realistic environments.