Robotics Plus, an agricultural robotics and automation company based in Tauranga, New Zealand, has made Robotics Business Review’s prestigious 2020 RBR50 global listing, which honours the 50 most innovative and transformative robotics companies of the year.
Its inclusion was in recognition of the company’s industry-changing Robotic Scaling Machine (RSM) that automates the precise volumetric measurement (scaling) of logs on trucks and trailers, replacing manual measurement.
Commercially launched in June 2019, the technology was developed in collaboration with fellow NZ-based company, ISO Limited, which commissioned the first RSM for its facility at the Port of Tauranga and has been using it since November 2018.
ISO now has eight robots installed across New Zealand’s North Island, scaling more than 25% of the country’s 20 million cubic metres of annual log exports. Further installations are planned in 2020.
It’s really exciting to be recognised alongside some of the biggest and best-known robotics, software and automation companies in the world including Boston Dynamics, ABB Robotics, Yasakawa Motoman, Nvidia, SICK and Microsoft,” said Dr Alistair Scarfe, co-founder and CTO of Robotics Plus, who led the RSM technology development.
Dr Matt Glenn CEO, of Robotics Plus, added: “This award validates our collaborative approach to innovation. Our team worked incredibly hard to design and build this world-first log scaling robot in just 12 months by working closely with ISO and a number of other local manufacturing suppliers.”
According to the company, the automated process is safer, more efficient and more productive than the previous manual system used throughout the world, which requires people to hand scan the logs by climbing between trucks and trailers.
“The Robotic Scaling Machine can automatically scan logs on a truck in 3 to 4 minutes, which compares up to 40 minutes for manual measurement using a ruler,” explained Paul Cameron, CEO, ISO Limited. “Importantly, it also eliminates exposure to hazards and moves those people into a safer environment and into more skilled roles.”
“The forestry industry globally can benefit enormously from automation,” added Steve Saunders, co-founder and chairman of Robotics Plus. “The scaling of logs is traditionally a slow, sometimes dangerous, manual process – so it was well suited to being automated. Due to the success and reliability of the RSM, we’re currently exploring a range of international markets including the US, Canada, South America and Europe.”
Robotics Plus was founded to improve the quality, productivity and sustainability across multiple agricultural sectors through automation, via a suite of machine vision, robotics and automation, machine learning and AI, analytics, software and control systems. In 2018 the company completed a US$10 million Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Co to accelerate the development of its robotic technologies, including robotic apple packers and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) that can carry out a range of agricultural tasks including robotic harvesting, fruit picking and pollination.
“Our world-class development team is skilled at rapidly prototyping new ideas, validating new components and integrating these into our robotic systems,” explained Glenn. “To keep pace with our ambitious growth plans and new market opportunities we plan to continue growing rapidly – our goal is to double the size of our team over the next year.”
About the RBR50 awards
The 2020 RBR50 innovation awards, the ninth annual list of top robotics companies globally, recognises forward-thinking companies and the original, impactful solutions they have created. Widely recognised throughout the world as a leading indicator of robotics innovation leadership, the RBR50 is also a critical measure of robotics sector growth. RBR50 winners were based in the US, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. Robotics Plus was the only New Zealand company named on the list.
Image source: Robotics Plus