How to become an autonomous mobile programmer

In this article, you’ll discover where to learn to program autonomous mobile robotic units and why you would want to add this skill set to your resume.

Today’s Factories

Are on the cutting edge of technology, they are integrating automated and robotics systems faster than any other industry. The goal is to reduce costs, improve performance and streamline a process.

The Case for AMR’s

Imagine you have a 37k meter warehouse containing 85k unique items, it would take a team of hundreds of people to manage the constantly moving products between receiving, quality, storage, packing and shipping departments.

Now imagine a business owner learned about a solution that could save thousands of hours in time, labor and improve safety and reduce overall costs. Well the solution has arrived and the answer lies in hands of an autonomous mobile robotics programmer.

A business can now deploy an on-demand automation solution in a matter of hours that can address multiple applications – including material handling and data collection. They can implement turnkey, extendable systems that can safely find, track, and move anything from parts to pallets in warehouses, factories, and distribution centers.

While there are other options to choose from to solve these problems to include; Motorized-Drive Rollers, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, and Automated Guided Vehicles. Traditional automation requires a long lead-time due to extensive engineering, control, power, and installation requirements.

They require a large allocation of space and also need tear-down and re-configuration when processes change. All of them require development time, engineering design and none of them are a one-sized fits all solution. They lack flexibility and require huge initial costs at implementation.

Whereas the AMR solution can be implemented throughout a facility in a day, can be scaled with on-demand and seamless expansion.  And there is no additional floor space, software, floor markers, QR codes or infrastructure needed to scale.

The AMRs are highly flexible and can be repurposed by an in-house AMR programmer, typically a maintenance manager of controls engineer. The AMR units can deploy on-demand, adapt to a variety of environments, to include logistics, distribution, e-commerce, retail, and manufacturing. Doesn’t require installing any IT systems, or external technical support or resources.

The Case for AMR Programmers

How would you like to learn to program AMRs in a weekend?

This is for maintenance professionals, engineers and department managers. Learning to program an AMR takes 3 easy steps – just drive the robot around your department and or facility to map it, then layout the path and workflow and then drag and drop in device triggers.

You have now programmed an AMR. It is so easy even a kid can learn to do it. In fact the programming platform was built on ‘Blockly’ the visual interface use to teach kids to write code by dragging and dropping visual blocks to create commands.

Like Blockly, Workflow Builder software uses graphical blocks to represent code, (known as workflows) each AMR has multiple choices of blocks specific to that robot. For example, a block can be programmed to be – a cart movement that moves totes autonomously between conveyors.

Say that you’d like your AMR to pick up and drop off a cart from a storage area to a quality department, you will simply drag and drop the necessary blocks and determine their locations and then the robots execute the program. The AMR software known as ‘Workflow Builder’ is built incredibly simple to make sure that anyone can do it. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t need a robot engineer, custom coding, or a full IT team to implement material handling in your facility any more.

How to Get Started With Autonomous Mobile Robotics Programming

While I haven’t gotten access to a copy of the ‘Workflow Builder’ software for the Fetch Autonomous Mobile Robot. You can watch the video that Fetch Robotics created to begin to understand the process.

Watch this; Fetch Robotics

You can discover more about the Fetch AMR’s here

And when you are ready have a look at programming have a look at this true beginner’s course calledBlockly’, visit Googles free learning site.

While this is a true beginner’s course it is valuable to have some insight to the simplicity of the platform used to program the Fetch Robotics AMR units.

Read up on the visual code editor to web and mobile apps here;

https://developers.google.com/blockly/guides/overview

It would seem that because the programming for the AMR’s is so simple that there wouldn’t be any demand for trained and or experienced professionals. If you thought that you would be very wrong, as a matter of fact there is a huge and growing demand.

Especially with the CoVid-19 virus. As an example I have included a link on how AMR’s are helping fight the pandemic in the United States. It’s a stunning example of AMR on the front line of cutting edge technology and science.

AMR’s are being used in hospitals, air planes, and could be used in schools, senior citizen living centers, office buildings and after this pandemic will likely be part of a facilities management standard list equipment for office buildings and manufacturing facilities lunch rooms, meeting rooms and any other location where large groups of people routinely congregate as well.

AMR’s in the fight against CoVid-19

Reality of Modern Tech

Now of course it is about perspective and path. For instance, I hope you caught the fact that ‘Blockly’ is a front end visual graphics programming editor. ‘Blockly’ is operated on the back end using JavaScript, Python, PHP, Lua and Dart programming languages.

While it is valuable to become familiar with the front end to be able to easily deploy the units throughout a facility. There is a huge amount of value when it comes to the sales, implementation, integration and optimization side of a business then just programming using the ‘Workflow Builder’ software.

Key Responsibilities Could Be;

Leading large warehouse facilities with complex automation integrate AMR’s into existing and or planned ASRS – Automated Search and Retrieve Systems.

Which requires a strong understanding of industrial engineering, lean methodologies to the continuous improvement of operational flow and distribution centers.

Understanding automation and mechanization of storage media, material handling equipment, workstations and works cells.

Understanding of technical building and facility documentation, layouts and process flows utilizing CAD and other relevant software.

Understanding analysis in support of facility re-engineering to ensure operational flows, capacity and throughput are properly considered in new designs and layouts.

And to be able to support studies and technology deployments within operations, e.g., AMR’s automation and digitization etc.

Are you ready to get break into a tech career and work with cutting-edge tech?

Blockly Programming

The Take Away

With this article we’re hoping we’ve answered some questions, sparked your curiosity and shared some useful information. But, we know you may need more, so we invite you to contact us for some follow up questions or to discuss your unique needs.

Just go to our contact page and reach out to us and we’ll get back to you asap!