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Material handling robot with advanced audio system to enhance plant safety.

Material Handling Robot with a RAP

Material handling robot with advanced audio system enhances plant safety.

If you’ve spent any time in an assembly plant you’ve undoubtedly encountered self-guided material handling robots rolling along the aisle ways. Typically, they’re making some sort of noise to alert the non-robots in the vicinity of their presence; there are beeps that are mandated by safety regulations; there is sometimes music (for reasons not entirely clear to us, the works of 19th-century composer Stephen Foster or early 20th-century composer Scott Joplin are often heard). But before long, it often becomes like aural wallpaper.

One of the material-handling robots you may have encountered is an ADAM from RMT Robotics (rmtrobotics.com). It has a payload of up to 330 lb; it has a 40-in. diameter, and from the floor to the top of the deck it is 20 in. It has a velocity of 4.9 ft/sec. There is a laser-range finding system for vehicle location and obstacle avoidance; there is an onboard PC for mapping, navigation and drive control.

And now there is something new: RAP. Or Reactive Audio Playback. It’s a programmable sound system that includes interactive voice messages—if, say, someone is blocking its way and it can’t generate an alternative path, it will announce, “Please move, I cannot get around you,” for example—as well as the ability to provide tunes not only of a more contemporary nature, but also related to position or function of the device.