ABB Acquires Sevensense to Equip Industrial Robots with AI Vision

New Delhi, January 11, 2024

ABB, the multinational technology company, has acquired Sevensense, a Swiss start-up specializing in enhancing the mobility of industrial robots using artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D vision technologies. This strategic move reflects ABB’s commitment to meeting the increasing demand for industrial robots capable of autonomous movement within factories and warehouses.

Sevensense, based in Zurich, focuses on developing sensor and AI systems that provide factory robots, responsible for transporting components to production lines, with the capability to perceive their surroundings and navigate through manufacturing facilities.

“In the past, robots supplying production lines were limited to following fixed magnetic strips. They took a long time to install and lacked flexibility,” said Sami Atiya, ABB’s Head of Robotics and Discrete Automation, in an interview with Reuters. “Now we have robots that can navigate freely across the entire factory, equipped with eyes and a brain.”

Each robot, equipped with six cameras, can efficiently move up to 2 tons of materials at speeds of 1.5 meters per second. This innovation allows for increased flexibility in reconfiguring production lines, enabling easy adjustments or expansions without hindering the robot’s operations.

Under the previous system, changing a production line or adding a new production cell was a complex task. With Sevensense’s technology integrated into ABB’s robots, these adjustments can now be made effortlessly, enhancing overall operational efficiency.

The autonomous mobile robot (AMR) market is projected to experience significant growth, estimated at around 20% annually until 2026, according to ABB estimates. This expansion is expected to increase the market size from $5.5 billion in 2023 to $9.5 billion by 2026. This growth rate surpasses the forecast for traditional fixed robots, where ABB anticipates an annual growth rate of 8%.

Sevensense’s acquisition is the latest in a series of investments by ABB in the robotics sector. The company has been expanding its presence, competing with industry giants like Japan’s FANUC and Germany’s Kuka. Previous strategic moves include the expansion of ABB’s U.S. factory in 2023 and the acquisition of ASTI Mobile Robotics in 2021.

While the terms of the Sevensense acquisition were not disclosed, ABB has already started integrating the company’s technology into its products. Notable customers include automaker Ford, which has purchased 300 robots for its Tennessee plant, and French tire manufacturer Michelin.

The integration of Sevensense’s advanced AI and 3D vision technologies is expected to further position ABB as a leader in the industrial robotics market.

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