US company Qobotix has announced the introduction of a universal AI operating system to transform collaborative robots (cobots) into intelligent coworkers on the manufacturing floor.
After two years of R&D, including active installations of the OS industrial appliance at major automotive manufacturers, Qobotix officially unveiled its technology to make existing robots smarter and self-learning.
According to the company, just as Android OS and Apple iOS offer application platforms that run on smartphones, the Qobotix OS platform coordinates industrial automation between manufacturers’ robotic capabilities. Powered by proprietary AI, machine vision and kinematics, the Qobotix OS’s agnostic plug-and-play technology enables intelligent factory applications to perform complex tasks that were considered only possible by humans.
The company also offers complete robot stations, which are ready for immediate deployment on manufacturing lines with the flexibility to be deployed rapidly for different tasks.
With Qobotix OS, say the developers, manufacturers can boost their manufacturing productivity, reduce costs and simplify manufacturing processes, such as precision inspection, picking, packing and assembly tasks.
A cloud service, Qobotix Cloud, also provides a factory management platform with a centralised repository of work intelligence that can be shared between machines to manage production analytics and provide managers with deep analysis of robotic performance.
Qobotix already has active OS installations in major automotive manufacturing operations. The company is seeking early adopters of their technology and aims to distribute 20–50 robot stations in the first year with deployment, training and testing that can be done on the same day.
One of Qobotix’s central innovations is that it enables robots to learn independently — humans can train robots by interacting with them and robots can learn from other robots, unlike existing industrial robots that are pre-programmed to perform only one task. This capacity enables robots to be programmed in hours or days rather than weeks. Companies can deploy their robots faster with greater flexibility to perform functions with accelerated human–machine collaboration, enabling humans to take on other roles.
Qobotix’s introduction comes right as the COVID-19 pandemic is shaking up supply chains to their core. Companies are re-examining their reliance on massive repetitive production offshore and seeking more flexible, localised manufacturing options.
Qobotix is the brainchild of Avi Reichental, a 3D printing pioneer and long-time industry veteran; Egor Korneev, a serial entrepreneur and a pioneer in the field of machine learning and vision systems; and George Votis, the Chairman, CEO and founder of Galt Industries, Inc.
“During our many years involved in industrial manufacturing, we experienced robots that were meant to be collaborative and quickly concluded they were not like that at all — they couldn’t see or hear, and they were very inflexible,” Reichental said.
The team recognised a major gap in the market and decided to develop their own technology with the aim of bringing vision and intelligence to collaborative robots, freeing humans from repetitive tasks to enable them to achieve more complex and strategic roles.
“Our aim is to take robotics out of the late 1990s with the Qobotix operating system,” said Qobotix co-founder and CEO Egor Korneev. “In the early 2000s, hardware companies dominated the mobile phone and device markets and the mobile applications ecosystem was weak with no common OS options.
“The advent of iOS and Android led to an explosion in mobile software applications based on open OS platforms. We are now in a similar place with cobots: with Qobotix offering a universal operating system for industrial robots driven by AI as a platform for automation applications.”
“Qobotix marks a milestone in the manufacturing and services industries,” Reichental said. “Qobotix changes the game for manufacturing and services by eliminating time-consuming processes such as programming to significantly lower costs and increase output. This presents a huge opportunity for all manufacturers in their everyday operations.”
“Qobotix offers a strong return on investment by freeing up people for higher level tasks,” said Qobotix co-founder George Votis. “With Qobotix, robots can more easily collaborate with each other, and allow manufacturers to deploy production stations within different production lines each day, saving time and costs while boosting productivity.”