ABB has acquired a company specializing in artificial intelligence and 3D vision to increase the mobility of industrial robots that move through factories and warehouses. The deal to buy Swiss startup Sevensense is ABB's latest investment in robotics and follows growing demand for industrial machines that can move and work independently.
Zurich-based Sevensense develops and manufactures sensors and artificial intelligence systems that can run factories, giving eyes and brains to factory machines that transport parts to factories.
"In the past, robots which supplied production lines usually followed fixed magnetic strips; they took a long time to install and weren't very flexible," Sami Atiya, ABB's head of robotics and discrete automation, told Reuters.
"Now we have robots which can go all over the factory, but with eyes and a brain."
Each robot - equipped with six cameras - can shift 2 tons of materials at 1.5 meters per second.
"Under the old system, when you needed to change a production line of 100 meters, adding a new production cell, for example, it was impossible to divert the robot," Atiya added.
"Now we can do that easily," he said.
According to ABB estimates, the market for autonomous mobile robots (AMR) is expected to grow by around 20 percent annually up to 2026, from $5.5 billion in 2023 to $9.5 billion by 2026.