Wireless Charging Technology for Autonomous Robotics

Downtime is particularly expensive in work that relies on carefully coordinated logistics, so optimizing charging time and speed based on operational needs is very advantageous.

Wireless charging technology for autonomous robotics

Questions and Answers with Aya Kantar, Vice President of Products | Powermat

Tell us about yourself and Powermat.

I am Vice President of Products at Powermat, where I have worked for nearly 10 years, using my expertise in multidisciplinary product development, image processing and data analytics. Powermat has been the perfect place to convey your passion for launching new game-changing products.

Powermat is developing wireless power supply and wireless charging platforms. We are focused on transforming how industries provide power to devices through end-to-end software wireless power platforms that enable standalone, mobile and connected technologies.

When Powermat started, the wireless power industry was still booming, and most apps were in the consumer space. For example, we partnered with Starbucks to offer our customers wireless charging in stores. With the development of technology, applications for wireless power have appeared. Today, as the industry expands and the benefits are increasingly clear, Powermat is applying its cutting-edge technology to the 5G, IoT and robotics markets, and our innovation roadmap reflects that.

How does wireless charging work? Is wireless charging more efficient than wired charging?

Wireless charging is based on magnetic induction. Magnetic induction is a means of creating an alternating electromagnetic field for the safe and efficient transfer of energy between the transmitter unit and the receiver, both of which contain an induction coil. When placed near the transmitter, the receiver receives an electromagnetic field and converts it into energy. Using in-band or out-of-band signaling for communication, the two units can adjust power levels and control power transmission accordingly.

There are three main approaches to wireless charging: closely related inductive charging, in which the transmitter and receiver must be tightly connected and located in close proximity to each other to transmit power; weakly coupled resonant charge, which can transmit energy over distances and with greater mismatch (no more than a few inches); and Powermat SmartInductive рашэнне, which bridges the gap between classic inductive charging and resonance to use the best of both worlds, providing more power, more freedom of positioning, more range between transmitter and receiver – all at a lower cost.

How do you see that wireless charging is used in production with mobile robots?

Whether they are designed to clean or handle the logistics of a large facility, manufacturers use stand-alone mobile robots to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. But many mobile robots with self-charging capabilities used in production have problems with proper docking or require expensive alignment mechanisms, leading to high cost of ownership, inefficiency, increased downtime and additional human intervention and repair. Downtime is particularly expensive in work that relies on carefully coordinated logistics, so optimizing charging time and speed based on operational needs is very advantageous.

Powermat wireless charging technology greatly simplifies the docking process, the robot does not need to dock at the charging station, eliminating the need for pago-pins or any manual intervention. It can also provide optimization of the charging process to ensure that each device is charged at optimum voltage and current, which extends battery life and avoids costly battery replacements and is really useful for distributed fleet of robots. As a result, users benefit from increased reliability and performance of operations and avoid unexpected costs.

Why do you think robotics manufacturers and companies that use mobile robots should invest in wireless electricity?

In order for organizations to get the most out of their investments in stand-alone solutions, service robots must always be able to perform their tasks autonomously and charge quickly without human intervention and maintain battery health for a long time. The inclusion of flexible and efficient wireless charging for commercial and industrial robotics is the last missing piece of the puzzle that provides complete robot autonomy.

Can you give an example of how Powermat technology benefits commercial robots?

Absolutely. We are working with Jetsons Robotics to help develop wireless charging stations for their stand-alone robots to clean solar installations on rooftops. Cleaning solar installations on rooftops can cost companies $ 100,000 to $ 500,000 a year, but replacing human labor with robots dramatically reduces those costs if they work efficiently. That’s where wireless charging comes in. Fixed or contact charging is too complicated in the environment, but an inductive charger will be expensive, and support for bias due to the environment and mechanical conditions is insufficient. That’s why our magnetic induction charging technology, Powermat SmartInducitve, has proven to be the best. Now these robots can work with maximum efficiency, daily cleaning about 1.7 megawatts of solar installations.

Tell us about your new robotics platform and how it differs from the technology you offered Jetsons Robotics? What are the key features of the platform?

While Powermat has been collaborating with robotics companies such as Jetsons Robotics for several years on customized solutions, this new platform is designed with a wide range of robot types, power levels and usage options in mind. It includes features such as advanced communication, beacons to improve robot alignment, greater alignment flexibility and power ranges that can cater to a larger fleet of robotics. We have developed a platform with extensive customer feedback and we believe it offers best-in-class wireless charging solution for this market.

What is the future of wireless charging associated with robots?

Robots go far beyond factory floors. A new wave of robotics has begun and we are witnessing the introduction of more industries than ever before, such as healthcare, retail, hospitality, agriculture, logistics and manufacturing. Note that the global AMR market was worth $ 1 billion in 2017, and now, it is projected to reach $ 7 billion this year. Wireless charging technology will give robotics manufacturers a competitive advantage. Our commercial robotics platform makes it easier and more cost-effective than ever to introduce wireless charging capabilities, and it’s incredibly powerful – working even in the most adverse conditions. As more and more industries turn to robots to overcome labor shortages and improve productivity and safety, I think wireless charging will become an important component.

About Ayu Kantar
Aya Cantor joined Powermat in 2012, with more than 15 years of experience in interdisciplinary product development, image processing and data analytics. Prior to joining Powermat, she held several product management and product marketing positions at leading global companies such as Applied Materials and NICE.

The content and opinions in this article are copyrighted and do not necessarily reflect the views of RoboticsTomorrow

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