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Sheffield boffins studying insect brains promise mobile robot breakthrough

16 April 2024

OPTERAN TECHNOLOGIES and SAFELOG have signed a multi-year agreement will deliver mobile robots with greater productivity, improved spatial awareness and lower cost of ownership.

The agreement, announced at LogiMAT, will means AMR and AGV manufacturer SAFELOG will integrate Opteran Mind, the company’s general purpose autonomy product, with its mobile robots which operate in a range of warehouse and factory settings. This will enable SAFELOG to address the urgent need for greater productivity from autonomous robots operating in hazardous, dusty environments with dynamic lighting, ever changing obstacles and without GPS.

Opteran Mind is based on 10 years of research into insect brains, where the team reverse engineered natural brain algorithms. Fundamentally, nature does navigation more efficiently and by replicating its approach in a model Opteran calls Natural Intelligence, the company has delivered a dramatic breakthrough. It estimates its solution could cost less than $160 USD running on a Sony and ARM Core using Sony IMX219 cameras and RK4566 ARM chips. This contrasts to current state-of-the-art solutions which can range in cost from $8,400 USD for a 2D LiDAR setup to $27,000 USD for a 3D LiDAR set-up.

A key objective of the partnership is to reduce the failure rate of mobile robots due to localisation errors in existing 2D and 3D LIDAR, and vSLAM solutions which affect productivity. This is exacerbated when hundreds of robots operate together in a warehouse setting because each installation requires an infrastructure consisting of magnetic tracks and QR codes or reflectors, increasing commissioning time and operating costs. Opteran's localisation software enables new projects to be activated quickly and efficiently without additional infrastructure.

SAFELOG managing director Michael Reicheicher says: “There are a lot of challenges for existing autonomy solutions to overcome in the complex conditions of a warehouse, so we have been amazed by what Opteran Mind can achieve.

“Opteran’s technology performs significantly better in our mobile robots, which will be hugely beneficial for our customers. Natural Intelligence, their approach to AI, offers a robust technology that we are confident will differentiate our AMRs in the global market.”

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with SAFELOG, as this is another significant milestone on our path to commercialising Opteran Mind,” adds David Rajan, CEO and co-founder, Opteran Technologies. “We are seeing a rapid take up of our technology across the US, Japan and Europe so today’s agreement with SAFELOG underlines why our technology is best in class for localisation and mapping for mobile robots. It also shows that while Natural Intelligence is unique in the market our inputs and outputs are standard making Opteran Mind a simple and attractive solution to integrate with existing mobile robots.”

Opteran is HQ’d in the UK with an office in London and its R&D Lab in Sheffield. It also has a US office in Boston Massachusetts and a partner in Japan.

For more information, visit www.opteran.com and www.safelog.com