IAM Robotics, a Pittsburgh startup that develops and sells autonomous material handling robots, has been awarded what the company says is a “key patent” relating to its robotics technology for logistics.
The patent will be issued on October 10, 2017 as US Patent No. 9,785,911.
IAM says the patent specifies “a system and method for piece-picking or put-away with a mobile manipulation robot”.
Specifically, the patent focuses on the underlying system and methods for IAM’s Swift Solution Suite, which powers what the company claims is the “world’s-first mobile picking robot”.
This technology enables IAM robots to autonomously navigate human-friendly environments, identify the location of objects, and pick individual items or bins, says the company.
The development of the robots comes at a time when the US is facing a nationwide labor shortage of workers to fill material handling jobs.
Logistics and manufacturing companies are also facing increasing pressures on cost and delivery times from rapidly changing consumer demands.
For employees, these changes demand increased productivity rates and hours.
Additionally, many in the warehouse workforce still spend most of their time walking from one item to the next.
The result is unhappy employees with turnover rates harmful to businesses, says IAM.
IAM Robotics says its products address these concerns by letting robots do both the walking and picking, freeing workers to focus on more value-added activities.
In the warehouse automation market, current solutions range from transporting stored goods to human pickers, to using customized picking equipment and transport infrastructure.
The former solution does not do enough to address labor concerns and the latter requires expensive capital investments that limits an organization’s flexibility and ability to react to changing market conditions.
This new patent helps IAM Robotics provide a solution that addresses both the need for labor and low-cost automation.
Tom Galluzzo, IAM Robotics founder and CEO, says: “The intellectual property we’ve developed and our solutions enable our customers to meet demand through a historic labor shortage in the supply chain.
“This problem will continue to grow, so our robots have arrived just in time.
“We also continue to add to our IP portfolio with technologies for the near future that allow warehouses to focus not only on throughput, but to grow their business by focusing on higher-value services like last mile delivery and offering a wider variety of items.
“The ultimate benefits will pass through to the consumer and our early customers will be rewarded for that.”
The patent that will be issued expands the company’s patent portfolio for unique designs that enable mobile robotic picking and transportation.
IAM Robotics currently holds US Patent No. 9,519,882 and has numerous other patents pending.
IAM says its team of “world-class roboticists and systems developers” are focused on delivering innovation and operational value that will transform the material handling industry.