Engineering a Robot for a Specific Job: Page 2 of 2

Locus Robotics created LocusBot to complete the warehouse tasks of bringing goods to humans for packing.

a prototype in 2014. We enhanced it and brought it to market in 2015, and then announced its availability in 2016.”

Teaching the Robot to Solve Its Own Problems

Welty found that the specific nature of what the robot had to accomplish helped the engineering team develop a solution. “We told our engineers, this is the problem we’re trying to solve,” said Welty. “If you have a really clear problem, it helps to focus the engineering. It’s amazing what good engineers can do when they know the problem.”



One important function the team built into the robot was the ability for the robot to do its job without a human boss looking over its shoulder. “Our robots are autonomous. We tell them: go to point B, and we don’t care how you get there,” said Welty. “If it runs into a block, it figures out another path. It creates an alternative. The robot is smart. It can find its way around. That function is really hard to program.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper .

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