WiBotic has teamed with Clearpath Robotics to develop wireless charging kits for two models of autonomous robots, the Jackal UGV and Husky UGV. The kits are available through Clearpath via its online component store, and can either be installed on new robots before they are shipped or retrofitted to existing robots using standard tools and simple instructions.
The kits allow the robots to charge themselves. Once a Jackal or Husky robot navigates to within several centimeters of a charging station, power is automatically delivered through the air, providing reliable battery charging even in difficult outdoor environments.
Each kit contains a WiBotic charging station featuring a wireless transmitter, housed in a weatherproof enclosure, and WiBotic receiver components and mounting brackets specially designed by Clearpath for each robot model. WiBotics works with GaN Systems to use GaN transistors for the charger.
The self-charging is particularly useful for robots in remote environments or where it is expensive or hazardous to employ humans to monitor and charge batteries.
In outdoor environments, robots are often exposed to dust, dirt, debris and moisture. Electrical components subjected to these elements are particularly susceptible to corrosion and mechanical failure, which results in unreliable charging. Fully sealed wireless power kits dramatically increase the reliability of autonomous robots in those environments.
The WiBotic chargers provide complete visibility into a robot’s charging process and can be programmed to deliver the ideal voltage and current for every charge cycle. It may be beneficial, for instance, to charge a particular robot’s battery as quickly as possible during working hours to minimize downtime. Overnight, however, it is typically better for the battery’s long-term health to charge more slowly. Jackal and Husky operators can use these customizable controls to optimize uptime while minimizing battery replacement costs.
Contact-based autonomous docking systems require precise alignment to ensure proper contact of both the positive and negative terminals. Misalignment can result in failed charging attempts, or damage to the dock itself – especially on uneven terrain or in wet, humid or muddy environments. The new kits solve this problem by offering up to 5cm of antenna air gap/misalignment while still delivering full power and efficiency.
Different robots use different battery chemistries, voltages and charging rates. This means customers who operate fleets of robots are frequently burdened with a hodgepodge of non-interoperable battery charging stations. The transmitters provided in these kits are universal, so a fleet of highly diverse robots can share the same charging stations as their Jackal and Husky counterparts.
Fleet management with WiBotic Commander. Clearpath customers also have the option of using WiBotic Commander to manage networks of charging stations and larger fleets of robots. Commander aggregates historical information on every charge cycle for every robot and provides analytics for optimizing fleet-wide charging processes and battery performance.
“Clearpath has been revolutionizing autonomous robotics for over a decade,” said Ben Waters, CEO at WiBotic. “Their robots operate across a wide array of rugged environments, from construction sites, to oil refineries, to railroad tunnels. With WiBotic technology built into their new wireless charging kits, the Jackal and Husky robots can now operate truly on their own. It’s a huge leap forward for operators who want to operate their robots more autonomously and efficiently while also eliminating the potential risks associated with manual battery charging in these often-harsh environments.”.
“We’re truly excited to partner with WiBotic, a world leader in autonomous charging solutions, to extend the capabilities of our robotic platforms,” said Julian Ware, General Manager at Clearpath Robotics. “We had looked for years to find an affordable, rugged, and fit-for-purpose charging solution for our platforms, and in Wibotic we finally found what we were looking for. The value of a mobile robot in commercial services is proportionate to its uptime. With Wibotic wireless charging, our customers are now able to extend the useful runtime of their autonomous robots over the course of a workday without intervention.”
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