WARREN, MI — Humatics Corp. and Eckhart Inc. this week demonstrated a new factory automatic guided vehicle (AGV) capable of changing routes on the fly.
The KinetIQ 300 (pronounced “kinetic”), a Humatics product, communicates with beacons placed around the ceiling of a factory. It can also travel outside where beacons are placed on poles. The Humatics system is mounted on an Eckhart AGV. KinetIQ 300 will be formally unveiled at IMTS in Chicago next month.
Eckhart produces Autocraft AGVs. Autocraft “is the fastest growing part of our business,” Andrew Storm, Eckhart’s president and CEO, said during an Aug. 22 presentation. The event was a preview of KinetIQ 300 ahead of IMTS.
Humatics makes automation software and related systems. “Humatics is a robotics company that is never going to make a robot,” said David Mindell, CEO and co-founder. Humatics investors include Airbus and Lockheed Martin.
Older AGVs traveled along set routes on the factory floor to deliver parts and materials. They used wires embedded in the floor or guide tape on the floor to navigate.
Humatics and Eckhart said he KinetIQ 300 can change routes and reach destinations with an accuracy of 2 cm. The AGV will stop if it senses a human in front of it. A human operator updates the machine’s route with a tablet computer.
Humatics also plans a future machine called KinetIQ 1000. The company says its accuracy will be 2 mm.
“Companies want to get away from fixed conveyors,” Storm said at the presentation, held at Eckhart’s technical center in Warren, MI. Rerring to Humatics, he said: “We believe in what their technology can provide.”
Mindell said the KinetIQ 300 is capable of operating even if beacons stop working.
“We could lose half the beacons out here and it would still operate,” he said. The AGV can report when a beacon goes down, he added.