Lifts are giving robots additional reach for new applications and industries such as construction and energy. RE2 Robotics Inc., which develops mobile manipulation systems, today announced a partnership with JLG Indstries Inc., which manufacturers mobile elevating work platforms, or MEWPs, and telehandlers. The companies said they intend to advance the integration of robots with access equipment.
“The future of work is here,” said Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2. “Humans and robots are working more closely together, and the construction industry is no exception. Our developmental partnership with JLG will enable us to apply our proven robotic technology to specific applications, including those that require working at height and repetitive lifting such as solar field construction.”
RE2 Robotics provides the RE2 Sapien robotic arms, RE2 Detect computer vision software, and RE2 Intellect autonomy software to enable intelligent mobile manipulation systems that operate in a variety of complex indoor and outdoor environments.
The Pittsburgh-based company said its robots can help companies in the aviation, construction, defense, energy, and medical industries to enable remote operations, improve worker safety and efficiency, and reduce operational costs.
RE2 robot arm to get a lift from JLG platform
“While JLG has been leveraging and developing robotics in specific areas of our business for quite some time, our focus has shifted to developing and incorporating solutions that integrate with our lifts to help offset labor shortages and provide assistive technologies to a now five-generation workforce,” said Frank Nerenhausen, president of JLG Industries and executive vice president of Oshkosh Corp.
“The relationship with RE2 allows us to partner with an organization who has the same drive for excellence as JLG, enabling us to accelerate the integration of robotics across our product line to move the access industry forward,” he said.
JLG Industries designs, manufactures, and markets products including JLG aerial work platforms, JLG and SkyTrak telehandlers and rotary telehandlers, and an array of accessories. It is a unit of Wisconsin-based equipment maker Oshkosh Corp., which employs nearly 15,000 people worldwide and offers products in more than 150 countries.
RE2 and JLG are currently working to integrate RE2's robots and software with a JLG aerial work platform to support the transfer, manipulation, and placement of photovoltaic modules for solar field construction. JLG said it is supplying engineering support during the technology development phase of the project.
Joint work is being completed on the mechanical and control system interface between the robotic arm and the lift, said the companies.
“Our work with RE2 Robotics is an excellent example of how we are driving progress with companies who are experts and leaders in their respective fields,” Nerenhausen said.
RE2 is working on robots to lift solar panels into place. Source: RE2 Robotics
Humans to supervise solar panel racking
Skilled workers will supervise the robotic solar field construction system, which uses computer vision to autonomously retrieve solar panels from a delivery vehicle and precisely place the panels onto a racking system. An onsite worker then follows to secure the panel.
RE2 said its Sapien intelligent robotic arm “offers a high strength-to-weight ratio, precise control, and human-like dexterity to place the burden of the heavy lifting on the robotic system.” The company said it expects the system to significantly improve productivity and reduce the amount of time required to construct a solar field.
The resulting integration will provide the foundation for a robotic solar field construction system. RE2 added that the project is in conjunction with its program with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to develop a robotic system for the Outdoor Autonomous Manipulation of Photovoltaic Panels.
JLG and RE2 said that they will have a concept machine and that they are planning demonstrations to gather additional feedback in the near future.
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