Video: Otto Motors Shows Self-Driving Vehicles on the Mfr. Floor

Otto Motors is showing its self-driving vehicles in booth NC-660 designed for the materials handling industry, with what seems like potential for wider applications.

Otto Motors is showing its self-driving vehicles in booth NC-660 designed for the materials handling industry, with what seems like potential for wider applications. In the video above, you can see the lift-configured Otto 1500 (for 1,500-kg payload) in the booth, rolling underneath a container and lifting it up for transport.

Designed for palletized loads, these robotic vehicles can autonomously map their surroundings for safe, intelligent pathfinding through a facility. Basically, these robots adapt technology seen in Google’s self-driving cars for indoor, industrial applications. Just as human beings receive data about their environment and form a mental map to find their way, these self-driving vehicles take in data and form a map for autonomous navigation.

During the press conference at which I took the video, Director of Industrial Solutions Simon Drexler shared a maxim of a past automation colleague: “If you can define it, you can automate it.” Now, Mr. Drexler said, we can automate ill-defined or undefined tasks. The Otto vehicles are designed for both. The user interface for Otto’s software provides options for both automated setup for repeated tasks and manual, on-demand missions.

The Otto robots carry a NTB 56 safety certification and are designed with the idea that these will serve as a form of mobile collaborative robot, not just a point-A-to-point-B currier. While the company’s target market is limited to materials handling at the moment, it will be interesting to observe how collaborative automation technologies like this diversify and penetrate more applications.