May 18, 2021
MassRobotics Publishes World’s First Open Source Autonomous Mobile Robot Interoperability Standards
Industry Experts Partner to Develop Guidelines that Enable Robots from Different Vendors to “Speak” the Same Language and Work Together Cooperatively
BOSTON, Mass., May 18, 2021 – MassRobotics, an independent, non-profit center that serves to educate, inspire and bring robotics initiatives, investments and companies to life, today announced the release of the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard. The new initiative enables Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) from multiple vendors to integrate and work together seamlessly to support safe and efficient operations in global factories, warehouses, distribution and fulfillment centers. Members of the working group and contributors to the newly introduced standards include Vecna Robotics, 6 River Systems, Waypoint Robotics, Locus Robotics, Seegrid, MiR, Autoguide Mobile Robots, Third Wave Automation, Open-Source Robotics Foundation and others.
“The release of version 1.0 of the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard is a crucial milestone for the industry,” said Daniel Theobald, CEO of Vecna Robotics and co-founder of MassRobotics. “It’s this pre-competitive collaboration and combined thinking from the greatest minds in the field that drive the sector forward exponentially faster than any one vendor could otherwise.”
According to Logistic IQ, the global AMR and Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) market is expected to reach $14 billion by 2026, with more than 270 vendors leading the manufacturing and logistics space. AMR adoption in particular is growing at an incredible rate, with a CAGR of roughly 45% between 2020 and 2026.
Until now, fleets of robots from multiple vendors have had no standard way to coordinate activities or share information. The MassRobotics AMR Interoperability Working Group was formed in 2020 to address these challenges and simplify the adoption of autonomous mobile robots into the market. The group’s newly issued standard allows robots of different types to share status information and operational conventions, or “rules of the road,” so they can work together more cohesively on a warehouse or factory floor. The standard also enables the creation of operational dashboards so managers can gain insights into fleet productivity and resource utilization.
“Functional and practical standards are a critical next step for robotic automation,” said Tom Ryden, Executive Director, MassRobotics. “Our AMR Interoperability Working Group has diligently focused on development and testing of these standards, which are needed now, and we fully expect will evolve as the robotics industry and end-user companies implement them. We encourage buyers to begin looking for the MassRobotics Interoperability Standard compliance badge when making purchasing decisions.”
End-users from major shipping and distribution centers have validated the need and provided requirements for this standard. The first use case will be trialed at a FedEx facility where AMRs from Waypoint Robotics, Vecna Robotics and others will be operating in the same production area.
“I applaud the Working Group for their efforts and dedication in laying out these first steps towards AMR interoperability. The diversity of the team shows that the industry can work together in finding solutions around this issue,” said Aaron Prather, Senior Advisor, FedEx. “Our interoperability validation in Memphis later this year will be a great real-world application of Version 1.0’s capabilities and will help to provide feedback to the Working Group to potentially demonstrate what future steps may need to be taken to make further improvements.”
“Support for this effort has been broad, and we are indebted to numerous companies and individuals for donating so much time and expertise to the development of this standard,” said Theobald. “This important technology lays the groundwork for future innovation and concrete value for customers worldwide.”
The new open-source code allows end-users to build dashboards to monitor fleet status and efficacy across mixed-vendor teams of AMRs. The AMR interoperability standards are published on GitHub and can be accessed here: https://github.com/MassRobotics-AMR/AMR_Interop_Standard
MassRobotics is the result of the collective work of a global group of engineers, rocket scientists and entrepreneurs with a shared vision to create a strong, vibrant robotics and IoT ecosystem. MassRobotics’ mission is to help create and scale the next generation of successful robotics and connected devices companies by providing entrepreneurs and innovative robotics/automation startups with the workspace and resources they need to develop, prototype, test and commercialize their products and solutions. See massrobotics.org for details.