Attabotics today unveiled the Attabot 2022, the first commercialized version of its proprietary robot shuttle for dense storage and retrieval. The Calgary, Alberta-based company said Attabot 2022 is stronger and smarter than previous models. Attabotics added that the robot has a simplified mechatronic design to reduce operational costs and increase the efficiency of automated picking and packing of goods.
“Despite supply chain constraints and chip shortages, we’ve been agile in ensuring all components are accounted for while transitioning our customers from robot prototypes to the new commercialized Attabot 2022 technology,” stated Scott Gravelle, founder and CEO of Attabotics.
“Developing a new platform during global supply chain challenges caused us to carefully consider how we built our robot and what partners could supply components,” he told Robotics 24/7.
“The ability to commercialize technology – to move a product from concept to market efficiently – is crucial in light of today’s high-demand e-commerce landscape,” Gravelle added. “It’s been a long journey to develop commercial hardware, but I’m proud of the Attabotics team.”
Attabotics supports micro-fulfillment
Founded in 2016, Attabotics claimed that it “is the world’s first 3D robotics supply chain system for modern commerce.” Inspired by ant colonies, the company said it replaces the rows and aisles of traditional fulfillment centers with a patented storage structure and robotic shuttles that use both horizontal and vertical space, reducing warehouse space requirements by up to 85%.
Attabotics said its robotic shuttles move in three dimensions inside its vertical automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). They deliver goods to workers on the perimeter who then pick, pack, and ship e-commerce, retail, and omnichannel orders.
By enabling retailers to place micro-fulfillment centers near high-density urban areas, Attabotics said it helps create jobs and decrease carbon emissions by closing the last-mile delivery gap. Attabotics has been adopted by major brands and other retailers across apparel, food and beverage, and home goods.
Attabot 2022 scales up, adds robustness
The Attabot 2022 is the result of intensive testing and customer feedback, noted Gravelle.
“It's a completely different platform,” he said. “We came up with a disruptive idea and did an unprecedented number of pilots for an early-stage company. We did millions of cycles on prototypes and had a great deal of learnings on what would make a robust, successful platform.”
Beginning customer operations in August, the Attabot 2022 is equipped with a flexible payload to accommodate larger bins up to 16 in. tall at 100 lb.—an increase of 25% from Attabotics’ previous release.
Other features include increased acceleration with high-torque motors, enhanced telemetrics for route optimization, and improved navigation sensors. Attabotics added that the Attabot 2022 is able “to operate in multiple temperature zones with an “unlimited number of robot, structure, and workstation configurations.”
“We also addressed things like connectivity, storage, and UL certification,” Gravelle said. “To do that, we had to work out electromagnetic radiation.”
The Attabot 2022 is designed for higher-capacity bins. Source: Attabotics
Fewer parts, reduced need for service
The new system's lean, modular design translates into 60% fewer parts than the previous beta model and allows for further flexibility and forward compatibility, said Attabotics. In addition to avoiding supply chain problems, fewer parts translates into easier support, said Gravelle.
“We've reduced the need for field service from regular preventive maintenance to semiannually,” he said. “With more robust features and better diagnostics, we can understand the robot and its environment. We've added diagnostics to support higher utilization.”
“The biggest difference [from the previous model] is the stability of the platform moving out to customer sites,” Gravelle said. “Customers intereacting with it will just see a white box that's more reliable and quieter. Attabot 2022's performance and uptime mean that we won't need to have Attabotics employees on site.”
Signed, sealed, delivered
Attabotics moved from belts, pulleys, and sliders to enclosed gearboxes in the Attabot 2022. “Warehouses can be dusty environments with different temperatures, and our washdown-capable systems can now work in markets like grocery, which has been a really strong target in our roadmap,” said Gravelle.
Beyond the hardware, Attabotics has been refining its software to take advantage of advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company said its systems can deliver data and visibility into customer operations.
“This is a milestone in the development of the business,” he said. “It took us six years through prototyping and research and development to a fully commercialized platform. This milestone unlocks companies to go beyond the robotics and look at operational intelligence.”
“We've spent most of the past two years working on intelligence, which is harder to show but bigger,” Gravelle said. “Not only are our robots a tool to bring bins, but our software can also see assets and the entire order line for predictive maintenance and heat mapping.”
“Software can help solve labor inefficiencies,” he added. “With better digital transparency, companies can share with consumers what's happening with their orders in near real time.”
“The key to the future is transparency—sharing what's happening with the platform with the people using it,” said Gravelle. “We've focused on getting the hardware right, and now we want to grow to be a strong partner with customers. Transparency builds trust.”
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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