A Chain-Driven Live Roller Mechanism for Loading and Unloading Packages on Autonomous Mobile Robots in Warehouses
Authors: Muhammad Ammar, Muhammad Moeed Ahmed, Muhammad Abdullah Younas, Khezar Qayyum, Fahad Iqbal Khawaja, Umer Asgher, Sara Ali, Yasar Ayaz
Abstract: Robots that can navigate through their environment are termed mobile robots. Mobile robots are being utilized in various fields, such as agriculture, transport, package delivery, disaster recovery, military, surveillance, and warehouse management. In warehouses, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) for intralogistics are becoming increasingly common in warehouses. AMRs for intralogistics allow a safer work environment, less need for manual labor, and minimal downtime which translates to optimized productivity. AMRs do not need any specialized infrastructure for guidance as they can be set up with the existing warehouse layout. Presently, AMRs in warehouses need assistance while loading and unloading packages in their storage compartments. Manual loading and unloading is a simple but time-consuming solution. Robotic manipulators are also commonly used for this purpose either mounted on the AMR or present at the conveyor station. Another possible solution is to make use of a tilting platform, or a plate installed on top of the AMR using a hydraulic system that drops off the load by banking the top to one side. This paper proposes an alternate solution for loading and unloading packages on AMRs in warehouses. A chain-driven live roller (CDLR) system is proposed which is installed on top of the AMR. The rollers are driven by a chain that is connected to the rollers via sprockets. The chain is driven by a motor powered by the robot’s battery, so no external power source is needed. The loading can be done by a conveyor belt dropping package to be transported on top of the robot. The robot prevents slippage of the package during transportation by using actuated braces that pop up as soon as the package starts moving over the live rollers. At the drop-off location, the braces drop down and the CDLR is driven automatically by the robot for the drop-off of the package. Chutes or containers can be used as the drop-off location. In addition to simplifying the loading and unloading process, the proposed mechanism optimizes the overall process as it can transport heavy loads without any torque reduction. The proposed system needs minimal human assistance and is more reliable and time-efficient as compared to existing systems.
Keywords: Chain-Driven, Roller Mechanism, Mobile Robots
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