ABB Acquires Sevensense: Eyes and Brains for Industrial Robots

ABB has acquired Sevensense, a Swiss start-up specializing in AI and 3D vision for enhancing industrial robot mobility. The technology equips robots with “eyes and brains,” allowing them to navigate factories more flexibly. Each robot, equipped with six cameras, can move 2 tons of materials at 1.5 meters per second. The market for autonomous mobile robots is expected to grow by 20% annually.

ABB Acquires Sevensense: Eyes and Brains for Industrial Robots
Image: ABB

ABB Acquires Sevensense to Supercharge Industrial Robot Mobility with AI and 3D Vision

Zurich, Switzerland – January 11, 2024 – ABB, a global leader in industrial automation, has acquired Sevensense, a Swiss startup specializing in autonomous mobile robots (AMR) technology. This strategic move positions ABB at the forefront of the rapidly growing market for mobile robots equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D vision, enabling them to navigate and operate independently within factories and warehouses.

Boosting Robot Agility and Flexibility

Traditional industrial robots often rely on fixed tracks or programming for movement, limiting their flexibility and adaptability. Sevensense’s technology addresses this challenge by equipping robots with advanced sensor and AI systems. These systems, powered by 3D vision and onboard processing, allow robots to perceive their surroundings, make decisions, and navigate autonomously, overcoming the limitations of traditional fixed-path robots.

“In the past, robots which supplied production lines usually followed fixed magnetic strips, They took a long time to install and weren’t very flexible,” Sami Atiya, ABB’s head of robotics and discrete automation told Reuters.

“Now we have robots which can go all over the factory, but with eyes and a brain.”

Transforming Production Lines

Sevensense’s technology offers significant benefits for manufacturers seeking to improve efficiency and flexibility. For instance, robots equipped with their AI-powered navigation systems can:

  • Dynamically reroute: They can easily adjust their paths around obstacles or production line changes, unlike their fixed-track counterparts.
  • Handle diverse tasks: They can perform various tasks, from transporting materials to conducting inspections, without requiring extensive reprogramming.
  • Optimize workflow: They can seamlessly integrate with existing production systems, leading to improved flow and reduced downtime.

“Under the old system when you needed to change a production line of 100 meters, adding a new production cell for example, it was impossible to divert the robot,” Atiya added.

“Now we can do that easily,” he said.

The AMR market is expected to witness explosive growth in the coming years, driven by factors such as rising labor costs, automation trends, and increasing demand for flexible production. ABB estimates the market size to reach $9.5 billion by 2026, representing a 20% annual growth rate, significantly outpacing the anticipated 8% growth for conventional fixed robots.

By acquiring Sevensense, ABB positions itself to capitalize on this lucrative market opportunity. The company is already integrating Sevensense’s technology into its existing robot offerings, attracting major clients like Ford and Michelin.

The acquisition of Sevensense marks a significant step forward in ABB’s vision of creating intelligent and adaptable factories. By equipping robots with advanced AI and 3D vision capabilities, ABB is paving the way for a future where robots seamlessly collaborate with humans, optimize production processes, and drive innovation across industries.

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Source(s): Reuters

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