In the fast lane

In the fast lane

Mobile robotics systems are being used in more and more work areas, in e-commerce warehouses as well as in modern restaurants. Conventional models on the market start at around 25,000 euros, solutions with an integrated robot arm cost around 70,000 euros. However, widespread use in the market is often unaffordable for small and medium-sized companies due to the high prices. Igus wants to change that with new low-cost robotics offers and is presenting a series of inexpensive mobile plastic robots at the Hannover Messe.

The market for automated guided vehicles (AGV) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR) is booming: the global market for mobile robotics, including service robotics, is currently worth around 20.3 billion US dollars, and experts expect this to almost double by 2028. Mobile robots are particularly common in intralogistics and industrial applications. And even in the catering trade and in hospitals, the smart helpers are increasingly doing their rounds.

The same is true for motion plastics specialist igus: For four years now, the plastics experts have been successfully testing AGVs in-house - driverless shelves that deliver mail and deliveries to offices, as well as mobile robots in production that move transport and stack-and-staple containers. The experience gained is flowing directly into the development of a new low-cost automation product line, the "ReBeL on Wheels". Their goal: to pave the way for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to use cost-effective mobile robotics.

Mobile ReBeL solutions for education, logistics and service

The basis of any mobile robotics system is the ReBeL. The use of plastic makes the robot particularly affordable at 4,970 euros and, with a weight of 8.2 kilograms, the lightest service robot with cobot function in its class. All of the mechanical components that make up the ReBeL are developed and manufactured by igus without exception. Its load capacity is 2 kilograms and it has a reach of 664 millimeters. Various moving systems are planned in which the ReBeL is centrally integrated:

For example, igus is launching an affordable variant for the education sector for 14,699 euros - including the robot arm. The ReBeL EduMove, equipped with a gripper, serves as an autonomous learning platform for educational institutions thanks to open source. It has a modular design and can be flexibly expanded to include additional functions such as lidar, camera technology or slam algorithms. Another variant is a driverless transport system for SMEs. It can transport up to 30 kilograms. The optional ReBeL can be used to carry out simple A to B positioning. It does not use expensive sensors and instead relies on its own 3D sensor technology. The price is 17,999 euros. In addition, igus is showing a study of a service robot at a low price in Hanover. The ReBeL Butler is suitable for simple but time-consuming pick-up and delivery services, for example in the hotel and catering industry.

A lighthouse project on wheels

The goal of all these developments is the lighthouse project, a mobile robot with integrated HMI and vision that could even clean up an office on its own. "With this project, we are pursuing a bottom-to-top strategy in which certain components such as safety laser scanners are not included in the basic package in order to keep the price low," explains Alexander Mühlens, authorized officer and head of the Low-Cost Automation division at Igus. "Nevertheless, it is ensured that the solution can be retrofitted for industrial requirements." Among other things, this year igus is presenting an affordable gripper with a large stroke and travel that offers high flexibility when gripping different geometries. Alexander Mühlens: "The areas of application for this desired low-cost AMR are extremely diverse and go far beyond simple transport tasks. They cover a huge range of applications in different areas of life, such as cleaning tasks or serving coffee directly at the workplace.”