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Sonair claims ‘breakthrough’ 3D ultrasonic sensor for autonomous robots

Sonair, previously operating in stealth, has revealed its innovative developments in sensor technology designed to improve safety in industrial automation.

The company also announced the upcoming launch of their first evaluation kit this summer, signaling a significant advancement in the field of robotic and machine autonomy.

The Sonair 3D ultrasonic sensor allows AMRs to detect distance and direction to all objects in a 180×180 field of view, up to a five-meter range. Combined with 2D images and AI, the outcome is confident navigation.

The demand for autonomous mobile robots is increasing, with a growth rate of 30 percent annually, largely due to their rising use in logistics and manufacturing.

Sonair’s technology enables effective human-robot interaction by improving safety. It also offers manufacturers considerable cost reductions, by as much as 80 percent of the total sensor package.

Knut Sandven, CEO of Sonair, says: “Today, as we step out of stealth mode, we are excited to share our vision and contributions towards a future where humans and machines can coexist safely and productively.

“Our cutting-edge ultrasound technology not only detects obstacles in three dimensions, but does so with unprecedented accuracy and at a fraction of the cost of current sensors.”

Founded in 2022 in Oslo, Norway, Sonair specializes in ultrasonic sensors that reduce the financial burden associated with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

By utilizing patented technology developed at SINTEF’s MiNaLab, Sonair’s sensors enhance a robot’s vision from 2D to 3D, offering a significant improvement over traditional LiDAR and camera systems.

Sandven says: “Our sensors are designed to end the era of expensive laser-based sensors.

“With our evaluation kit releasing this summer, we encourage innovators and industry leaders to explore the potential of our technology in transforming machine perception.”

Several companies are already exploring Sonair’s sensor technology. One is Solwr, a company that develops a competitive combination of robotics and software to automate picking and sorting processes in warehouse and retail environments.

Olivier Roulet-Dubonnet, Solwr CTO, says: ”We are impressed by the technology and the unique opportunity Sonair gives us to offer mobile picking robots with next-generation operational safety solutions.

“We are really excited to start testing the Sonair 3D ultrasonic sensor on our robot in warehouses.”

Sonair has received strong financial backing, highlighted by a recent seed round that raised approximately 30 million Norwegian kroner from prominent investors including SINTEF Venture VI, ProVenture, Startuplab Founders Fund, and Stratel.

Borgar Ljosland, partner at ProVenture, says: “We are delighted to back Sonair’s committed team as they develop safer and smarter robotic systems.

“Their innovative approach not only enhances human-machine interactions but also opens up significant business opportunities across various industries, including service and delivery robots.”

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