February 10, 2021

WiBotic MapView Mobile400x275WiBotic, a Seattle-based startup focusing on advanced autonomous charging for robots, has announced new software aimed at providing energy optimization for robot fleets. The new Commander software allows companies operating large fleets of aerial, mobile, underwater or industrial robots to visualize, configure and optimize the delivery of energy throughout the fleet.

“We started to get a lot of demand as our customers got beyond one and two robots deployed for better information and access to information about the charging infrastructure,” said Ben Waters, CEO and co-founder of WiBotic. “For example, if a company has a floor cleaning robot and material handling robot, each has its own charging station. When it’s just a couple of robots, it’s manageable. But imagine that at scale, for hundreds or  thousands of robots, it doesn’t just become a bottleneck, it becomes a deal-breaker for large businesses who want to have these autonomous systems be hands-free.”

Waters said the company built Commander to do two things - provide much more insight into the availability and utilization of the charging stations themselves, and second, to inform users how they can better scale fleets of robots as they grow.

The software provides a bird’s eye view of a robotic fleet’s charging infrastructure, including a visual display of charger availability and status, and historical information on which chargers are being utilized more than others. Customers of WiBotic can easily determine optimal charger placement to maximize opportunity charging, and can set up personalized notifications when a robot is not charging properly in order to address the problem quickly.

In addition, through Commander’s features and an API, customers can increase the lifespan of lithium batteries on many of these robots. Dynamic adjustments can be made to variables such as charge voltage and speed (current), based on each robot’s schedule. For example, users can have robots charge quickly during the day when robot uptime is critical, and perform a slower charge at night to maximize the overall battery lifespan.

The Commander software currently only works with Wibotic’s charging hardware, which include lightweight hardware enclosures that can be easily mounted on most robots or drones. The company has also worked with other robotics manufacturers to integrate its charging options into their hardware.  Waters said the company hasn't yet done all of the API work in order to get it to work with other chargers, but that is a direction they are pursuing.

The Commander software has been evaluated by New Hampshire-based Waypoint Robotics, which develops and manufactures autonomous mobile robots. In 2018, the company launched its EnZone charging system using WiBotic technology. “As we deploy larger fleets of robots, we prioritize battery charging as a point of optimization,” said Jason Walker, CEO of Waypoint Robotics. “”Robot availability and battery lifespan can be maximized if we know when, where, and how fast to charge; and Commander gives us that visibility and control. Commander also makes deployment and maintenance of multiple EnZones faster and easier than ever before.”

Additional features of Commander include:

* Auto-discovery of all transmitters and robots for immediate visibility, reducing the time for setup.

* Aggregate detailed information on every charge cycle for every robot, allowing battery performance analysis to better predict failures and avoid downtime.

* Adjustment of charge settings for groups of robots, with the ability to push updates to the fleet automatically.

* Battery performance data across different chemistries and vendors that help customers make more informed decisions over time.

* The ability to update firmware for all WiBotic equipment simultaneously.

In addition to the cloud-based software components of Commander, it can also be installed on premise for environments where IT security is crucial. The data can also be ported to any cloud using the docker container’s RESTful API, allowing it to tie into the rest of a customer’s workflow, WiBotic said.

More information on the new software is available at the WiBotic website.