Improvements in power conversion technologies are making it possible to change the way robots are made.
Integrated power modules of today are able to meet the size, weight, power budgets, and cost savings that robots need to move from industrial, residential, and commercial applications into a wide new terrain where the only limit is your imagination.
When it comes to improving our lives, robots have reached a tipping point. And a major contributor to their growth is OLogic.
OLogic is an electronics consulting company based in Santa Clara, California. They have been helping their clients bring robotics designs to market in both high and low volumes for more than 15 years. They do this by offering help in the fields of electrical, mechanical, industrial, software, and firmware engineering.
This requires knowledge of power electronics integration, a key part of the design that affects how mobile robots move, what they can do, and how long their batteries last.
Numerous robots have been created by OLogic for a variety of industries, including agriculture, smart homes, and inventory management, to name a few. OLogic’s robotics clients can be traced back to a Silicon Valley start-up that is widely seen as the first to use mobile robots.
Willow Garage was praised for its ability to connect off-the-shelf, open-source software from universities and other organizations. This helps robots do hard jobs.
When the business shut down in 2014, it caused a diaspora of robotics software specialists who went on to form practically all of the major robotics start-ups in the Bay Area. OLogic now has new customers from businesses like Savioke, Knightscope, Fetch, and Dusty Robotics.
OLogic uses Vicor power modules (Buck, Buck Boosts, and PRMs) in their robots because they are power-dense, effective, and simple to operate. This is an example of a robotic power supply network.
Vicor ZVS Buck Regulators are now used on mobile robots everywhere. It never occurs to me to create my own supply because I need five or ten amps at 12 volts. I never think that way anymore, “says Ted Larson, CEO of OLogic.
The developers of advanced software for tasks like machine learning or robot algorithmic task navigation are the actual rock stars of the robot industry, according to Larson. “The electronics were somewhat of a last-minute addition.” People make the mistake of believing they can get away with purchasing everything off the shelf and merely connecting it. It gradually collapses, like a house of cards.
Putting power in the spotlight
Mobile robots provide special power issues and demand a range of power intensities. Different amounts of power and power density are needed by the sensors, servo motors, actuators, data servers, communications systems, and other components that run the robot.
People are power-hungry. Others might only operate sometimes. This means that power needs to be delivered quickly, cleanly, and cheaply from a battery-powered source.
The Vicor ZVS Buck Regulators are the components that have been used the most recently, according to Larson. “We now utilize them on mobile robots everywhere.” It never occurs to me to create my own supply because I need five or ten amps at 12 volts. I no longer think that way at all.
Automating the construction arrangements can save you time and money.
Dusty Robotics is one client collaborating closely with OLogic to enhance its power profile (Dusty). Dusty is a company in Mountain View, California, that makes tools for the construction industry that are run by robots.
A tape measure and a chalk line have been two basic tools used by the construction industry for millennia to lay out building floor plans. Even when architects use advanced 3D CAD models to make buildings, the layout still has to be printed on paper, brought to the project site, and moved by hand.
The tape measure and marker method are labor-intensive and prone to human error, which has an effect on budgets and schedules. Rework is a result of errors, and Dusty estimates that it normally costs 10% of the total cost of a construction project.
Philipp Herget, co-founder, and CTO of Dusty Robotics claims that many errors are made when blueprints are drawn up by hand, far more than the construction industry is even aware of.
Layout errors have been known to drive construction companies out of business. Everything is accurately marked by a robot, not by hand, so we avoid mistakes.
With no mistakes, Dusty FieldPrinter is five times faster.
With a robot programmed on the job site to automate the same task, Dusty does away with the traditional, time-consuming practice of physically putting building drawings onto the floor.
The Dusty FieldPrinter robot loads a computer blueprint before printing the layout of elements including walls, doors, plumbing, and electrical chases on the ground. And it does so with an accuracy of one-sixteenth of an inch while moving at speeds that are nearly five times quicker than those of a person.
The construction sector can now run more like a modern factory thanks to this invention, which also improves working conditions for the skilled artisans who form the backbone of the construction process.
According to Herget, you can hasten the construction of the structure if you can shorten the time allotted in your schedule. And the sooner the project is finished, the sooner you can begin receiving payments. Money is time.
Powering the Dusty FieldPrinter robot
The mobile robot, Dusty’s FieldPrinter, is battery-powered and can run for extended periods of time in a range of weather situations. It has a lot of different kinds of electronic equipment, each of which needs a different voltage and current to work. This includes sensors, drive motors, motorized parts, CPUs that do a lot of work, and printers.
This is the reason Dusty hired OLogic to construct the fundamental electronics for its robot. Beginning with discrete power solutions, OLogic. But over time, Vicor Corporation taught OLogic how to construct power delivery networks (PDNs) for robots in a modular manner.
OLogic came to the conclusion that they couldn’t create something with the same operational, thermal, and operating range efficiency as a Vicor power module. Vicor modules, such as the ZVS Buck Regulator, are also very affordable, owing to their 200 to 300 watts of power output and 97 percent efficiency.
Dusty’s robotics invention is aiding in the digitization of the construction industry by establishing a single source of truth on the job site that is based on the digital model. It has a long battery life and cutting-edge power conversion technology.
Now, instead of the architect, the general contractor, and each of their own paper blueprints, every trading partner uses the single plan that has been printed on the floor.
Coordination between these several parties is improved by the availability of a digital blueprint, which allows for better planning, execution, and quicker completion.
According to Herget, “construction automation is increasing what humans can achieve.” Instead of using screwdrivers, people now utilize power tools. Simply put, it makes their work much simpler.
“Our robot-powered equipment is helping the construction sector advance, producing better results and enhancing the working environment for expert artisans,” the company claims.