Material Handling Robot with a RAP

Article From: 7/14/2011 Automotive Design & Production

Material handling robot with advanced audio system enhances plant safety.

Material handling robot with advanced audio system to enhance 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 ( 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.