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The evoBOT is a balance pro

Transport by pendulum

"Intelligent" robotic vehicles are a familiar concept in logistics. They move autonomously and are no longer bound to specific routes or predefined paths. The ability to “think in context” vastly simplifies logistical processes, resulting in ideally optimized warehouse operations. Some of these smart machines bustle about on four or more wheels, others fly around like drones through the building. But only the evoBOT “swings” on two wheels to always keep its balance – plus, it is no longer limited to warehouses but is also being put through its paces at the Munich Airport...

Fully automated assistants are already in common use in storage logistics. Whether in “swarm mode”, as “classic” floor-bound models  or flying from rack to rack – modern technology is making constant advances into the world of logistics. The same is true of the versatile evoBOT.

Developed by the Fraunhofer Institute, this robot is uniquely characterized by its arms and the adaptive load-carrying capability they enable. It moves on two wheels and is quite impressive with its ability to continuously maintain its balance. According to its designers, the applications of this collaborative robot go well beyond the classic logistical context, extending to urban spaces as well. They envision, for example, that it could soon help out in nursing homes or carry goods through the parking lots of large supermarkets. For starters, however, it will be demonstrating its capabilities in the field of logistics.

Grasp it, lift it, hand it over

While comparable robotic solutions are limited to the execution of simple tasks, such as pushing or pulling goods and packages, the evoBOT goes a step further and is able to hand these goods and packages to a person. Once it sees an object and has wrapped its arms around it, its gripping pads move inward until it has exerted enough pressure to lift or grasp the object. Moreover, its appearance is intended to reduce inhibitions to interaction between humans and robots.

Always well-balanced!

On a technical level, the evoBOT’s designers describe it as a “dynamically stable system based on the principle of an inverse pendulum – without an external counterweight.” That might sound complicated, but in principle it is quite simple.
The evoBOT is compact and light, and – in contrast to conventional robots – it always stays in balance, allowing it to move on various surfaces, including uneven ground and inclines. The lower parts of the robot constantly move back and forth to keep the weight of the upper part centered. Almost like riding a unicycle.

A new assistant for logistics operations?

As previously mentioned, the evoBOT could be a very promising partner to logistics workers by taking over a diverse range of tasks, such as handling hazardous goods, transporting packages over long, frequently travelled routes, relieving employees of lifting and overhead work, procuring materials (e.g. replacement parts) or assisting in the loading and unloading of aircraft.
Even while carrying a load, the evoBOT is extremely maneuverable on its two wheels. It can achieve an astounding maximum speed of up to 60 km/h and carry a load of up to 100 kg. Plus, it can operate either on its own or in a swarm. Thanks to its stable movement, the evoBOT is suitable for a variety of indoor and outdoor environments.

Strong and agile

The evoBOT is able to “orient” itself with two optical cameras, mapping systems and other sensors, allowing it to intelligently move about among people and other vehicles. This means it can travel autonomously through the warehouse, overcoming small bumps, traversing uneven terrain and avoiding obstacles. If an opening is too low, the robot can “go flat,” switching to a more horizontal profile. To prevent it from scraping along the floor, it features two additional guide wheels on the undersides of its extended arms. These are not driven by motors but are still a very clever solution.

“Field test on the airfield”

The evoBOT is undergoing its first practical test at the “Cargogate” freight terminal and on the apron of Munich Airport. Here it has demonstrated its versatility and proven that it can help optimize the terminal processes. A gratifying result in times of labor shortages...

It remains to be seen just how and when the evoBOT will simplify daily work in the transport and logistics industries, but it definitely has great potential.

Runway helper