Multiple technologies and expertises are used in the Effidence robotics solutions
…A relative navigation capability, to detect and follow an operator.
- The navigation software is precisely detecting a specific person within in the surrounding. It is then able to follow him/her with no mistake with another person. This is the “Follow-me” functionality,
- The person follow-up is natural, no beacon need to be worn: it can be configured for a person walking in front, on the left-side or on the right-side of the vehicle,
- The usage of the “Follow-me” functionality may be limited to areas preliminary configured (specific aisle, picking zone, etc.)
…An absolute navigation capability, to find its way within the environment and therefore to drive autonomously to the destination.
- The localization is mainly based on the natural environment recognition: storage racks, walls, pillars, safety barriers, etc.
- The localization can be strengthen whenever required with the use artificial reference marks in open areas,
- The system is therefore adaptable, flexible and does not require any heavy infrastructure: no line on the floor, no QR code, no beacon or any other triangulation system, etc.
The Effidence navigation software is also including a obstacle avoidance system that detects in real time any item on the robot way. The system can then be configured either to stop in front of the obstacle or to drive around it for the robot to further continue its way.
The “Follow-me” and obstacle avoidance functionalities do not require any installation. The robot is plug & play. The autonomous navigation functionality requires a mapping process to be performed with the MapEditor software tool.
Each robot is equipped with its own navigation system, no centralized server is require. Only a Fleet Coordination System (EffiFCS) may be useful to manage the fleet traffic according to predefined priority rules.
A built-in security system
All vehicles equipped with Effidence navigation system are complying with the Machine Directive 2006/42/EC and with the EN1525 standard.
The security of assets and persons is ensured at a PL-d safety level through the EffiCONTROLLER system, designed and developed by Effidence. We preferred not to rely on a third party system through the use of so-called “security” sensors. We decided to create our own electronic system allowing the use of navigation sensors. The EffiCONTROLLER electronic module is obviously including a permanent integrity check routine and a redundant process structure.
- The security area is fully controlled and the area size is gradually moving: the security area in front and at the side of the robot is increasing as the speed increases.
- Costs, and therefore Prices, are reduced due to the use of Navigation Sensors.
The Effidence security system is audited by Bureau Veritas.
Fleet Coordination System (EffiFCS), a Tower Control and a supervision system
The Fleet Coordinator System (EffiFCS) is a fully customizable tool to perfectly match each project specific requirement.
The main EffiFCS functionality is to coordinate an autonomous vehicle fleet. Each robot communicates with the Coordinator through a dedicated Wi-Fi networks to receive mission orders and to send status reports. The traffic is then managed according to predefined priority rules.
The status of each robot is also uploaded to allow the supervision of the fleet and the on-going processes.
EffiFCS is also an interface to the outer world
- It receives signals from remote calling button and assign to a free autonomous vehicle the mission to drive to the require destination,
- It is connected to the ERP or WMS via a REST API to retrieve a multiple destination conveying mission and to assign it to a free autonomous vehicle,
- It is connected to an industrial machine by Modbus to manage the autonomous vehicle arrival and departure according to the actual production rate,
- It is connected to the traffic light system, controlled through its built-in IN/OUT ports, in order to warn of an imminent autonomous vehicle arrival,
Monitoring of autonomous vehicles performance indicators
Distances and driving times, arrivals & departures, specific behaviours, etc. are all timely recorded. The complete database is then available through the supervision module from the Fleet Coordination System.
The raw data can be downloaded to be then analysed with a computer spreadsheet.
Easy-to-use and powerful installation & configuration tools
An installation and configuration phase is required for a robot to drive autonomously. This is made with the MapEditor tool.
The first step is to create a LIDAR mapping of the environment with the vehicle in “Follow-me” mode. This map is then uploaded on the MapEditor tool to define:
- items to be considered as landmarks. Those can be natural ones (walls, storage racks, pillars, etc) or specifically added for this purpose, like reflector stickers. However, only a human being is defining which item is to be considered as a landmark by the system,
- all possible routes within the evolution area,
- specific vehicle behaviour according to predefined zones: speed limitation, horning, yield, loading/unloading, etc.
The EffiFCS Configurator is the configuration tool to create logic rules within the Fleet Coordinator System (EffiFCS). Traffic management and interface with external equipment (calling button, traffic lights, industrial machine, etc) are fully configurable.