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Toposens Launches 3D Collision Avoidance Sensor for Mobile Robots

ToposensEchoOne 400x275

July 20, 2022

Munich, Germany-based Toposens has announced the market launch of its Toposens 3D Collision Avoidance System for mobile robots, based on its 3D ultrasonic echolocation technology. Based on the principle of echolocation as seen in bats, the Echo One compensates for the drawbacks of optical sensors through the use of sound-based triangulation combined with sophisticated noise-filtering software.

Based on more than seven years of research and development, the Echo One and the Toposenss Processing Unit aims to address an unmet need for higher safety of mobile robots in industrial settings, the company said. With rigorous commercial testing in real-life industrial scenarios with reputable mobile robot companies, the two systems are now available for other customers.

Toposens said other 3D sensor systems, such as lidar or vision-based cameras, have limitations in their perception capabilities when optical conditions in the environment become unfavorable, or when objects like forklift forks are close to the floor. “As a result, they struggle to detect objects well enough, making them an unreliable and insufficient collision avoidance solution,” the company said. In addition, traditional one-dimensional ultrasonic sensors do not deliver the needed data for reliable collision avoidance, as it can only measure simple distance data (aka, time of flight), compared to a 3D point cloud that the Toposens system can generate.

The Echo One compensates for these drawbacks through its sound-based triangulation combined with the noise-filtering software. This can deliver robust 3D data output in real-time for each obstacle detected within the fully adjustable warning and stop zones. In addition, the zones can be set to dynamically follow a mobile robot taking a left or right turn, and adjust to the speed of the vehicle.

The sensor sends the obtained data (echo reflections perceived by three microphones) in a 3D point cloud format to the Toposens Processing Unit, which is equipped with an easy-to-configure advanced 3D collision avoidance software, the company said. Depending on which 3D zone violations are detected, the processing unit triggers either a “slow down” or “stop” command to the mobile robot’s CPU. When no zone violations are detected, the mobile robot can drive on.

“Being able to detect multiple difficult-to-detect obstacles reliably and in real-time, regardless of environmental conditions, enables us to provide next-level robotic safety for our customers,” said Tobias Bahnemann, CEO and co-founder of Toposens. “Our technology addresses the shortcomings of optical sensors, such as lidars, which can fail to detect floor-based objects like forklift forks on the floor, in unfavorable lighting conditions or transparent or mirrored object surfaces. Receiving data output in x, y, and z coordinates guarantees the most reliable level of 3D collision avoidance.”

Toposens said it is now taking orders for its first commercial version of the 3D ultrasonic collision avoidance technology. For more information, visit the Toposens website here.

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