Maybe you first noticed them while grocery shopping, checking for hazards or scanning items that need to be restocked. Or maybe you even have one in your home running on a fixed schedule and picking up your crumbs. We’re talking, of course, about autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). More particularly, how these sophisticated robots use precision encoder components to shape our world.
Autonomous Mobile Robots and Precision Encoder Components
As we said, AMRs are sophisticated robots. With the help of sensors, they move through obstacles in their environments without human supervision. The key to these sensors? Precision encoder components. And like the first examples we used of the grocery store robot and robot vacuum, these technological advancements were created to make tasks and processes easier. They’re also instrumental in shaping the increasingly automated world.
Encoder components in these robots vary slightly by industry and device but generally require motion feedback for motors, lift control, and steering. Within a warehouse setting, AMRs are split into three categories— sorting, visualizing (inventory), or assisting the picking process. Outside of this, these robots’ tasks include transporting high value materials, sanitizing healthcare facilities, data input, and autonomous mobility in research and development. All of these tasks require precision engineering and durable but agile encoders.
Rotary Encoders and AMRs
Regarding precision encoder components for AMRs, rotary encoders are necessary for optimal performance. We regularly see two examples of AMRs with our clients: warehouse robots and drones. Often these devices require battery-operated (or rechargeable) motors to work efficiently and autonomously through their tasks.
The motors used for these robotics rely on rotary encoders to operate correctly. In addition, these motors’ driver or controller units consume quite a bit of power during operation, which is why minimizing this power consumption is of the utmost importance. Rotary encoders also have the vital job of conveying position information for the devices.
Other Types of Precision Encoder Components for AMRs
A rotary encoder is likely your best bet for the most power-saving efficiency. That said, we work with clients who manufacture AMRs across industries, so we know rotary encoders are not the only precision encoder components needed.
As a custom optoelectronic shop, we fabricate everything from glass encoder discs to hub and disc assemblies. Much of our work with robotics clients is with optical encoders. AMRs need optical encoders for their sophisticated sensors to operate and see in their environment. This sensory input and data processing is essential to an AMRs’ operation—even more so when that robot is performing mission-critical tasks like those for robotic surgery tools or space exploration rovers.
Whereas rotary and optical encoders are arguably primary encoders in robotics, secondary precision encoder components like modular angle encoders and enclosed linear encoders are just as important to the robot’s overall operation. These and other secondary precision encoder components include:
Modular angle encoders: Assist with more accurate scanning of dynamic movements.
Enclosed linear encoders: Assist with positioning with incredible accuracy, especially useful for warehouse robots.
Magnetic encoders: Use sensors and markings to communicate location and speed.
Absolute encoders: Produce unique signals for absolute (true angular) positions, which increases accuracy.
How Photo Solutions Serves the Robotics Industry
For the last 30 years, we’ve worked with some of the most advanced robotic companies in the industry. These include AMRs in manufacturing, medical, and industrial applications for which precision encoder components are necessary. Photonics and optics play a significant role in the efficiency of robotic advancements, especially as these devices become more aware of the world around them.
Our clients include those like Kinova Robotics and Auris Health, both with AMRs aimed at improving or saving lives. Kinova Robotics, for example, use encoder components to achieve fluid and accurate movements for their lightweight robotic arms. Auris Health on the other hand, uses components to make their assistive surgery tools as precise as possible.
As you well know if you’re in the industry, robots help to make tasks more efficient, automated, and precise. Whether in a warehouse or an operating room, robotics rely on encoder components for this precision and power.
Custom Specifications For Client Needs
At Photo Solutions, we’re proud to meet client optoelectronic needs down to the most precisely fabricated components. With cutting-edge technology, we can engineer and design precision encoder components that meet the needs of AMR clients and beyond. This includes creating microlithographic patterns down to two microns on glass and fabricating encoder discs down to 5mm.
In addition, our team is always looking for ways to expand our services and engineer encoder components for up-and-coming robotics technologies. This could include AMRs for good-to-person picking, like those in retail or wholesale settings. Or factory robots that conduct high-speed sorting or floor sortation for large warehouses. Another example would be those that handle inventory visibility in complex operations.
As we look forward to future applications of encoder components in AMRs, new 3D scanning methods offer promising advancements for robots working with high-speed sorting. Furthermore, with the integration of highly specialized optical encoders, tools like these 3D scanning automated robots could help optimize workflow.
30-Plus Years of Precision Encoder Components
Our wide-reaching industry reach has given us the knowledge and experience to engineer precision encoder components that get the job done. From factory automation to aircraft, we build with durability and agility in mind. Ready to engineer the next big thing?