Hon Hai Precision Industry Co and Adlink Technology Inc have formed a robotic venture that aims to use “swarm technology” to create robots that can communicate with one another on the factory floor to optimize production efficiency.
Hon Hai is Apple Inc’s leading iPhone assembler and the world’s largest contract electronics maker, while Adlink supplies industrial computers and Internet of Things solutions.
Through a subsidiary, Hyield Venture Capital Co, Hon Hai holds a 51 percent stake in autonomous mobile robot (AMR) developer FARobot, while Adlink owns the remaining 49 percent. Together, the two companies put up US$6.82 million in capital for the new venture, which opened its doors recently.
According to FARobot general manager Ryan Chen, “swarm autonomy” is a concept from the field of robotics.
It utilizes data distribution service technology to enable robots to share information with each other in a decentralized manner, he said.
“They are like ants or bees, and each individual unit is getting constant feedback from the others so they can work as a team,” he said.
This ability to adapt to change in real time is key to optimizing productivity, he said.
“The factory of the future is very fast-moving and full of changes,” he said. “The same production line could be making one product in the morning and another in the afternoon.”
“Our biggest challenge is to deliver the right raw material or components at the right time to the right place,” Chen said. “This will reduce the amount of time spent waiting rather than in operation.”
FARobot’s AMRs are to be deployed in Hon Hai factories within three years, he said.
“Hon Hai is the factory of the world so we can prove our concept there first, but of course we would want to expand our market after that,” he said.
At the opening ceremony at FARobot headquarters in New Taipei City’s Jhonghe District, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu said the collaboration capitalizes on the strengths of each partner.
“With FARobot’s swarm technology and the respective domain knowledge of Hon Hai and Adlink, we can hope to build the foundation of a robotic business that will reach many industries,” Liu said.
Adlink chairman Jim Liu said that FARobot would provide “smart factories with smart logistic solutions.”
“It is not enough just to make one machine, we must make a group of machines that can communicate with each other and cooperate,” he said.
Source: Taipei Times
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