“The idea behind the remote carriers is that you will have a manned mothership, accompanied by … drones that are flying in the swarm, which are having to perform different tasks depending on the mission.
The drones could be a tactic to keep airmen out of harm’s way. In a high-threat environment, it would be preferable to send a remote carrier than a manned platform. “We need to make the remote carrier system as intelligent as possible.
“What is a big help is the current huge steps in terms of artificial intelligence to make these drones not just dull platforms but really intelligent carriers with also a certain amount of autonomy” to navigate and perform tasks on their own.
An important variable will be the size and weight of the drones.. Larger platforms could be launched from a runway. “But there might be also smaller ones that you put, for example, into a transport aircraft, fly them into the scenario and then you open the back door and they are dropping out and then flying next to their manned fighter aircraft. It’s one of those things we are currently investigating,”
Post-mission aircraft recovery is another factor that must be considered. “There could be the possibility that there are some small ones where you say, ‘we can produce them rather cheaply’ and you simply don’t recover them. Then there are more important and more expensive assets where you need to make up your mind on how to recover them” to include potentially programing them to fly back on their own.
“The envelope of flight and the envelope of maneuvering of unmanned aircraft is much bigger because you don’t have the constraints of having the pilot in terms of Gs, in terms of acceleration, in terms of evading maneuvers. “It’s really a good case for introducing AI-based algorithms for all of these new, different capabilities.”
“The sheer volume of code and artificial intelligence that could be potentially added to the systems is really huge, and there is no way to do that without properly automating all the verification steps” to ensure that the algorithms will function properly and the drones will fly safely,
“In our conception of the remote carrier, we will … have a lot of cooperation with our missile world” including the size, shape, weight, propulsion, flight envelope and modular payloads that comprise the systems. “To be ahead of the threats you have to share a lot of characteristics with the missile” weapons.
“In an A2/AD environment, the remote carrier is here with its own sensor … where it’s so dangerous for your manned platform that you won’t go there even if you have stealth. The drones could be used to detect and trigger enemy air defense systems, and be equipped with electronic warfare capabilities.
“That was our first foray into attritable aircraft. It’s expensive enough to be lethal but cheap enough to be used in an aggressive, non-risk averse way. … It’s certainly not a throwaway but it’s cheap enough that you can take a level of risks that we couldn’t take with a manned platform.”
Air-Launched Effects are executed thousands of feet above enemy terrain to perform surveillance and reconnaissance. That capability is in its infancy but is part of the future vertical lift modernization effort underway.
“It’s difficult to figure out where it makes sense, how they interact, how they adapt, how soldiers do certain things now that they have robotic capability.
If adeversaries could solely see the force through electronic means, they would see a much bigger signature over here, while we were tucked in behind terrain here waiting to begin the operation. But once the enemy has eyes on the robots conducting the breach, “the last thing we’re worried about is electronic signature.
The robotic breach also triggers the debate over what the services should procure and how those capabilities should be deployed: Should we send in high-tech, expensive and heavily armored optionally manned vehicles to conduct operations like breaches? Or can the service design robotic vehicles “that are a little bit more skeleton with all the breaching equipment so if it doesn’t make it, it doesn’t make it, and you just buy more for the redundancy factor?
Mobile robots speed material flow to fulfillment workstations and between manufacturing processes. They cut picking errors and boost throughput. They help consolidate storage space and future-proof operations. Robots offset rising labor costs and shortages. They make better use of your skilled workforce. Robotic mobility leads to traceability and predictability, your road to the always-on supply chain.
Traditional autonomous typically require some type of existing infrastructure or facility modifications, whether they are magnetic strips or navigational beacons embedded in the floor, to guide the vehicles on a designated path. They work well in predictable environments.
“If you’re always moving materials directly from point A to point B and those points never change, and the path between those points never changes, then an autonomous is a good platform. “But that type of environment applies to a very small percentage of the material transport market.”
Some autonomous vehicles navigate like GPS in your car according to maps in its robotic brain, and by using various sensors, it avoids and steers around unexpected obstacles. It autonomously determines the best route or path to get from point A to point B with real-time intelligence.
“One of the challenges that our clients have expressed with traditional autonomous vehicle technology is that each time a change is required in their facility/system, it’s a painful process. You have to change the track and then you have to change the programs. Usually it’s a takes a long time before the vehicle system is up and running again. With automated technology and the intelligence that’s built into these vehicles, you can literally make a change with a click of a button.
Autonomous vehicles allow for changes and flexibility in building layouts, new machinery installations, and facility additions. Self-driving vehicles enable new applications to be automated because of the level of flexibility they offer within industrial environments. “By not requiring any infrastructure to navigate, the solution is able to grow and change with your organisation.”
“Imagine a manufacturing process. It doesn’t matter what the manufacturing process is, it’s a black box. You put parts into it, something happens, and parts come out. If you know it’s necessary to bring materials to that black box and when you pick them up from the back end, you know where all my inventory is. You know the cycle time of the production cell, when it’s up and when it’s down. You know how many units have been produced and the quality rate.
“The difficult part of implementing these kinds of vehicles into a factory is that the environment is always changing. You always have forklifts, boxes and machinery being moved around. That’s challenge has always been they can’t successfully navigate on a daily basis without running into obstacles they can’t resolve. The way our technology operates with deployments of multiple sensory inputs allows us to make good decisions in real-time dynamic environments.”
“The laser scanners on the robot will build the walls, the aisleways, and the machinery, and create its own map that resides inside the robot. Once a robot has a map, you can teach it pickup and drop-off points, and then it will look at those maps and figure out the best way to get between two points. Now if something impedes the path, it will recognize that and reroute itself to get to that drop-off point in a different manner.”
With swarms of these robots working together but separately, at any given time the system can determine which robot is in the best position to retrieve the next bin in an order. Downtime is virtually eliminated because there’s always another robot nearby if one gets stuck or needs to recharge its batteries.
“Think of it as two brains. One big brain is controlling all the robots and each robot has a smaller brain that is communicating back and forth. The autonomy is coming from the bigger brain, which is the master control or warehouse control system, and that is coordinating the moves among each robotic transport vehicle.
Then you have smaller brains on the vehicles that are handling the low-level control, for example driving and navigating. That’s the swarm effect we alluded to earlier. The smaller-brained mobile robots are coordinating with each other and with the bigger brain to accomplish certain tasks.
The process starts with a robotic carrier retrieving a bin and delivering it to the picking station. Each bin has several compartments containing different items. The vision guided robot arm finds the right item, picks it from the bin, and places it in a designated area for further processing by the human picker.
“We divide and conquer the warehouse. We look for warehouses that have a high percentage of inventory that is compatible with the robot. We have people doing what they’re good at, and we have the robots doing what they are good at, which is picking the rigid boxes other products.
“If we need to go with a different arm for whatever the reason is, say we need to have a bigger robot or a client has a preference for a certain robot manufacturer, we can swap out arms without going through the development for that specific supplier. It gives us modularity in a sense, so that we can use any type of mechanical, electrical, or electronic system and integrate it for our solution.”
A common operating system for autonomous vehicles that would facilitate "plug and play" applications will be critical. Such an overlaying architecture would prevent vehicles—whether drones, trucks, delivery bots, or anything else—from operating in conflict with each other.
Common standards would provide the ability to gather information from any kind of sensor, make sense of that data, and respond in a way that is predictable and conforms to established standards and to build in rules about how a vehicle will react or behave in specific situations or conditions.
1. Reduce operating costs and increase productivity
The implementation of autonomous robots could primarily drive value by reducing direct and indirect operating costs and increasing revenue potential. Supply chain automation helps in the reduction of labor costs, inventory, warehousing, and overhead costs associated with inventory storage. Installed sensors and load protection devices allow robots to carry out precise and secure handling of all loads continuously and around the clock to concentrate human labour resources towards value add-on tasks and products, while repetitive tasks are handled by autonomous ground vehicles.
2. Product Material Flow
Seamless integration with production enable companies to improve efficiency by implementing accurate just in time materials flow. Automation allows for the increase of the volume of products that can be produced. The technology will allow for the incorporation of the skills of trained workers with the accuracy of automated equipment, increasing productivity.
3. Improve safety compliance
Automation can assist organizations with complying with industry standards through standardizing pricing, products and vendors. Employee safety can be improved in highly hazardous environments and injury costs can be reduced significantly,” In the distribution center, for instance, robots can seamlessly zip past each other, humans, or other moving objects thanks to advanced collision avoidance capabilities, which are processed as quickly as any human can react to potential accidental run-ins.
4. Human Machine Cooperation
Workers work directly with collaborative robots, easily training them with programmable movements and then handling material and sorting packages side by side with them. Vehicles move in a predictable and controlled manner with sensors for obstacle detection. Improved flexibility tools allow for the easy adjustment of vehicle paths and operations, systems can also be expanded when necessary during peak times or even moved to a completely new facility
5. Create major efficiencies.
Autonomous robots can test, pick, pack, sort, build, inspect, count, or transport materials of various sizes and weights faster and more efficiently than ever. Drone technology combined with autonomous navigation and artificial intelligence is being used to understand inventory levels and location within warehouses and enabling organizations to move inventory faster throughout the supply chain. The companies investing in aerial robots are also redirecting their staff to handle high-value activities and empowering their teams with rich information, which can then be revisited at any point and time and can be used to make better decisions.
6. Perform product development tasks
When autonomous logistics drone workers are set up to perform continuous, repetitive tasks, product development and prototyping activities can benefit from around-the-clock testing for fatigue, damage tolerance, and quality. This frees up product development professionals to work on more important tasks. When handled by a logistics drone, these tasks produce more accurate supply-demand reconciliation and replenishment needs, ultimately reducing on-hand inventory.
7. Improve accuracy on routine tasks:
Robotic process automation in standard sourcing processes can reduce effort and time requirements and improve the accuracy of mundane tasks. “Autonomous robots are able to perform inspections on inbound goods and provide real-time data to suppliers. Autonomous Drones can be used in various warehouse operations, from inbound logistics in time-critical situations; carrying materials from storage to factory; transporting directly from receiving to shipping; or efficiently scanning inventory and significantly reducing labor costs.
8. Automated Gate System
When gates can be controlled automatically through an automated gate system, throughput is increased at access points. An automated gate system will typically include the ability to centrally control gates from other facilities, calling for less management to monitor gate functions, and cutting down on staff crowding at exit and entrance points. This would also increase visibility, and improve the capacity to predict and plan for driver traffic and patterns.
9. Business Continuity
Strategies to prevent accidents in automated warehouses include robotic functions that reduce the risk of physical strain in human workers—and automated routes that decrease the chance for warehouse collisions. Robot movements are also believed to improve warehouse safety and reduce the risk of work-related physical problems. Automating these processes only increases productivity and output.
It’s now possible to gauge the moments when employees are genuinely productive. It’s an efficient approach that can accurately detect what’s working at a company and what’s not. Automated systems can track employee time and location, automatically track the amount of time worked, and allow for more efficient accountability.