ForwardX Robotics Inc., which develops vision-based autonomous mobile robots using artificial intelligence, today announced the launch of six products in its Max series. The Beijing-based company said all of the systems are built to safely and efficiently handle materials in factories and warehouses. ForwardX first showed its new robots at CeMAT Asia last month.
ForwardX said it has more than 160 patents pending and a team of over 180, including 120 engineers, of which 10 hold Ph.D.s. The company raised $15 million in Series B+ funding in April. It has been recognized with two first-place prizes at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Text Retrieval Conference Video Retrieval Evaluation (TRECVID) and and a First Place prize in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Visual Object Tracking Real-Time (VOT-RT) Challenge.
“At ForwardX, our goal has always been to develop mature solutions that actually deliver real value right now. We understand that the manufacturing industry is a complex one, with a variety of circumstances and pain points specific to each manufacturer,” said Nicolas Chee, founder and CEO of ForwardX Robotics. “We recognize the huge opportunities to add value to production facilities, and our new robots aim to meet the needs of all manufacturers no matter what their production floor looks like.”
ForwardX offers fleets using sensor fusion
The AMRs use sensor fusion to make sense of data collected from sensors including 2D and 3D cameras, 360-degree lidar coverage, and inertial measurement units (IMUs). They can navigate can autonomously through facilities and adapt to dynamic environments by avoiding obstacles and adjusting routes on the fly, said ForwardX.
Designed to work as part of a wider fleet, the company said its robots are orchestrated by the f(x) Fleet Manager software system using machine learning algorithms to best group, assign, and dispatch tasks across the fleet.
Max line expands
ForwardX said the following new products expand on its current Max range of AMRs and include additional features for manufacturing environments:
- Max 300 Lift Lite: Like the original 300 Lift model but without the front column, the Lite model is designed to move critical payloads of up to 300 kg (660 lb.) across production facilities. With built-in lift functionality, the Max 300 Lift Lite can be combined with wheeled carts or platforms where raw materials, work-in-progress (WIP) goods, and finished goods can be stored. Workflows such as raw material picking, line-side delivery, WIP transfer, and finished good storage, can be automated using the Max 300 Lift Lite.
- Max 300 Conveyor: With a similar footprint to the Max 300 Lift Lite, the Max 300 Conveyor is equipped with an automatic conveyor top module to connect separated systems without need for manual intervention. Designed for material transfer across the production floor, the Conveyor model can be customized with 1-by-1, 1-by-2, 2-by-1, 2-by-2, and belt conveyance configurations.
- Max 600 Conveyor: Like the 300 Conveyor, the Max 600 Conveyor offers hand-free transfer between different parts of a production facility’s operations. Offering double the payload, the 600 Conveyor allows for higher payload material movement, particularly within warehouses, by collaborating with forklifts and ForwardX’s conveyor station accessory to automate inbound and outbound workflows.
- Max 1200 Standard: Using the same shape and design as the Max 600 Standard, the Max 1200 Standard offers a similar solution for payloads up to 1,350 kg (2,976 lb.). Used to transport large pieces, cases, and pallets, the Max 1200 Standard can automate heavy payload movements between the receiving dock, bulk storage aisles, and shipping docks for increased safety and more efficient and productive logistics.
- Max 1200 Lift: Like the 1200 Standard, the Max 1200 Lift is best suited to higher payloads with a 1,200 kg (2,645 lb.)-payload capacity. Offering built-in lift functionality, the Max 1200 Lift combines with a number of ForwardX accessories, such as its Pallet Dock and Deckloader, to collaborate with forklift drivers in the warehouse.
- Max 1200 Conveyor: The Max 1200 Conveyor is built to move and convey loaded pallets throughout warehouse environments. With its built-in conveying functionality, the Max 1200 Conveyor can be used to induct pallets into traditional automation systems like conveyors, shuttles, and automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).
“Through deep conversations with our current customers and interested prospects, we have been able to identify the problem areas that manufacturers wish mobile automation could address more effectively,” said Chee. “We’re pleased to be able to expand our offering to address their needs and open up our solutions to a whole range of new scenarios”
“We’re currently piloting our new products across a number of facilities, and we continue to see some very encouraging results,” he said.