With current robot technologies, mobile robots are capable of performing many tasks autonomously. To implement these technologies in an industrial setting however, their navigation needs to be safe in presence of humans, other robots and vehicles. Yet, there is no solution on the market that is both cost-friendly and easy to implement. Time to change that and develop a system that makes it easier to upscale.

Currently, the only autonomous navigations systems for mobile robots that are safety-certified, are based on LiDar. Unfortunately, LiDar is a pricy technology. That is why Avular is developing a navigation system that is based on sensor fusion of radar and stereovision, using artificial intelligence. The cost of this system is much lower than LiDar technology, because radar and stereovision are low-cost sensors. Stereovision and radar are complementary sensory techniques that compensate for each other’s flaws. For example, a stereovision camera often doesn’t detect windows, because it can see through them. The radar doesn’t have this problem and tells the robot not to drive through the window. This increases the safety of the system. The navigation system will be capable of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, also called SLAM. This allows mobile robots to navigate autonomously and safely in dynamic environments such as warehouses. The system is not only cost-efficient, but also capable of functioning in all weather conditions, something LiDar cannot.

But is it viable?
To assess the viability of the new navigation system, Avular uses funding from the Horizon2020 SME Instrument. With this viability essay, market research was conducted, competitors were analyzed and insights gained into the safety certification process. These results were used to fine-tune the business model and to develop an IP-strategy.

Potential target markets and client segments were mapped, which shows that the semi-public spaces market is the most suitable for this product. This is an attractive market, because safety is an important aspect yet has less restricting legislation than in public spaces. Later, the target area might expand by adding public spaces, agriculture and logistics. Avular selected their home country, The Netherlands, and Germany as the first geographical regions to offer the product, with the ambition to quickly expand to the rest of Europe.

Avular concluded that this navigation solution is a viable business idea and decided to move forward with the development of the product. The business model was updated according to the results of the VAP and an effective IP-strategy is defined. Now it’s up to the team of Avular engineers! To be continued…

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 889000.