Continental launches autonomous robots at LogiMat

  • May 31, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

German technology company Continental is showing its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for the first time in public at this week’s LogiMat show in Stuttgart.

The automotive giant has been testing the robots at its own production locations worldwide and believes they are now ready to sell externally.

Since testing started, the AMRs have been given improved and new features as well as the handling of new use cases. Building on years of research in robotics, the company is including these now in its product portfolio under the name Continental Mobile Robots.

“We are pleased to confirm that from now on volume production of the AMRs has started in Continental’s Rheinböllen plant in Germany with the first external customer projects slated to be delivered,” said Pierre Pomper, head of AMRs at Continental. “Continental complements its in-house capabilities with a partner ecosystem of technology leaders Kinexon and Roeq to provide customers a leading-edge AMR.”

Since 2020, the AMRs have been deployed at several Continental production locations worldwide. The company built them in-house to meet the demands of the future factory, since such a product was not readily available in the market. The experience gained has now been incorporated into the AMR version for external markets.

Measuring 1455mm long, 630mm wide and 225mm high, the AMRs can carry loads up to around 1000kg at a speed of up to 2.0 metres per second.

They are versatile and manoeuvrable. Increased torque, shorter turning radius, optimised sensor coverage, improvements to the lifting mechanism and accessibility of controls as well as the equipment for the transport of carts, pallets and top rollers are additional features.

Fleet management software from Kinexon is offered optionally to turn an AMR fleet into an intelligent and coordinated swarm. The creation of orders and routes as well as the management of the AMRs will become easier and more standardised using the VDA5050 protocol.

“We developed reliable and scalable fleet management software in collaboration with Continental, which increases the flexibility and performance of our customers’ AMR fleets,” said Alexander Hüttenbrink, managing director of Kinexon. “Additionally, we offer an ultra-wideband (UWB) system for connecting relevant things of the material flow such as AMRs. Our holistic fleet management software combines this information in real time to optimise supply chains, material flow and industrial automation.”

Continental is offering its AMRs with different top modules. Users can choose between cart-rack and lifting unit use cases. Due to the collaboration with robotic equipment firm Roeq, Continental can also offer top roller modules for transferring loads between AMRs and conveyors.

At LogiMat, an AMR with top roller module from Roeq is being shown as a world premiere.

“We are excited to team up with a strong partner like Continental,” said Michael Hansen, managing director of Roeq. “We are on a path of significant growth and I am convinced that our collaboration will provide customers with a wider choice of better and more robust solutions to meet their logistic challenges.”

The AMRs provide shopfloor logistics for several industries including logistics and warehousing, automotive, food and beverage, electrical and electronics. They work hand-in-hand with humans, reduce manual activities such as driving forklift trucks, speed up transport, and provide an accurate overview of shopfloor inventory and its storage location.

Continental offers everything from a single source, from consulting, sales, integration, service and support to maintenance contracts and 24-hour support.