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ABB Acquires AI-Based Navigation Startup

Marking a step towards ABB's vision of a workplace where AI-enabled robots assist people.

Abb Sevensense I
ABB

ABB announced that it has acquired Swiss start-up Sevensense, a provider of AI-enabled 3D vision navigation technology for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Sevensense was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from Swiss technical University, ETH Zurich.

“This marks a significant step towards our vision of a workplace where AI-enabled robots assist people, addressing our customers' needs for greater flexibility and intelligence amidst critical skilled labor shortages,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation. “Each mobile robot, equipped with vision and AI, scans a unique part of the building; collectively these robots complement each other’s view to form a complete map, enabling them to work autonomously in a rapidly changing environment.”

The acquisition follows ABB’s minority investment in Sevensense after it joined the company’s innovation ecosystem in 2021, the same year ABB acquired ASTI Mobile Robotics. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Following pilot customer projects in the automotive and logistics industries, ABB will integrate Sevensense’s technology into the company’s AMR portfolio, offering an unprecedented combination of speed, accuracy and payload.

The market for mobile robots is expected to grow at 20% CAGR through 2026, from $5.5 billion to $9.5 billion.

Sevensense’s navigation technology combines AI and 3D vision, enabling AMRs to make intelligent decisions, differentiating between fixed and mobile objects in dynamic environments. Once manually guided, mobile robots with Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visual SLAM) technology create a map that is used to operate independently, reducing commissioning time from weeks to days and enabling the AMRs to navigate in highly complex, dynamic environments alongside people.

Maps are constantly updated and shared across the fleet, offering instant scalability without interrupting operations and greater flexibility compared to other navigation technologies.

Abb Sevensense IiABB

Today, this AI-enabled navigation technology is already transforming the automotive manufacturing and logistics sectors, delivering value through faster and more efficient operations.

For automotive manufacturer Ford, Visual SLAM enabled ABB AMR’s will create efficiency gains in production sites in the U.S., while Michelin will use the technology in intralogistics at its factory in Spain. Other automotive manufacturers will roll out the technology in the UK, Finland and Germany.

This technology has the potential to impact robotics far beyond AMRs, leading to greater efficiency, flexibility and accuracy throughout production and intralogistics. The technology will also continue to be sold across segments including material handling, cleaning and other service robotics fields under the product name Sevensense.

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