Thinking robots that can move things around easily at your factory, warehouse or mart? Think tech savvy-rich South Korean robot engineering group THiRA Robotics

신태섭 기자l승인2022.04.25l수정2022.04.25 10:30

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▲ THiRA Robotics / CEO Donggeong Kim

While many South Korean companies are moving fast towards automated manufacturing systems, the government has announced its plan to pour more than 20 trillion won ($16.4 billion) in the sector.

The International Federation of Robotics reported that the global robot market was estimated $11.2 billion in 2019, a 32% increased on last year (8.5 billion), of which 43% are dominated by logistics robots according to the World Robotics-Service Robot 2020. Around 75,000 logistics robots were sold in 2019 and the number is expected to jump to 259,000 by 2023. 

Geoffrey Moore writes about life cycle in his book <Crossing the Chasm>: new products or technologies are first used and reviewed by early adopters before getting into the main stream; between these two phases is a gap called chasm. Chasm is a period where the technologies are reviewed and upgraded. Chasm is then followed by Bowling alley and Tornado where the products or technologies are spreading fast. 

Donggeong Kim, CEO of South Korean robot engineering company THiRA Robotics, said that the autonomous mobile robot has crossed the chasm and entered the bowling alley phase, and will soon enter the tornado phase. He brought up a good example with CRT TV:

"It started black and white. Then moved onto color, LCD, LED and landed in OLED. A 77inch OLED TV was sold 35 million won ($30,000) when it was first released in South Korea. It is now sold at around 3 million won which means that it has long time entered bowling alley. Back to logistics robot, it started with AGV(Automated Guided Vehicles) and then moved onto QR code-driven AGV. For now, AMR(Autonomous Mobile Robot) is leading the trend. I think AMR will get into Tornado through bowling alley because it delivers goods to the destination without any environmental limits. It is a more advanced system. A logistics robot might look simple for ordinary people but it is loaded with cutting edge technologies from frame and engine to wheels, hardware and software. A malfunction in one part can be resulted in malfunction of whole. It's that delicate."

AWG System
At the Smart Factory + Automation World 2022 held at COEX Seoul, THiRA Robotics wowed both industry experts and visitors alike with its 'robot total solutions' planning and implementation abilities. THiRAbot moves flawlessly no matter there is a bump or it is a hill. A test carried out by the Korea Testing Laboratory, THiRAbot moved smoothly at gradient 10 with 1 ton load. It also passed 31mm height with 1.3 ton load. 

"This was possible thanks to our development of AWG System. The system absorbs shocks from the surface and even 30cm tall bumps. THiRAbot also is the only one that crosses over 20mm step and 35mm gap at the entrance of all elevators."

ADM System
THiRA Robotics' ADM System is a wheel driving actuator which is more than 50% smaller size than other products with the same power and improved stability. It minimized vibration of the wheels and realized 5mm halt precision. THiRA Robotics designed its own ADM System by 100% original technologies and parts, and it comes with a 5 year warranty. 

THiRAbot and Robo-L
In addition to THiRAbot 100, THiRAbot 200, THiRAbot 300 and THiRAbot 600 and THiRAbot 1000, the company recently released Robo-L. Robo-L boasts 170mm ground clearance while other automated logistics robots are around 350mm. It is specifically designed for rolltainers which is especially good news for marts. 

Total Operation System
FMS(Fleet Management System) and WMS(Warehouse Management System) are two common systems many logistics companies and distributions centers are using. These two systems give answers to 'what robots will pick up certain products?', 'how they move around?' and such questions. In other words, 'software' empowers these tasks. THiRA Robotics is offering software and system solutions according to needs and wants of clients as well as the sizes of the warehouses.

Hybrid Slam Human Following 
While our eyes see and analyze things and landscape and move to the destination we want to go, robots do not have eye. Instead, they have their own sensors: lidar and vision. It is called hybrid slam. THiRA Robotics uses laser scanner-based 2D lidar and camera for their Hybrid SLAM to give better autonomous navigation performance. For human following moving, loaded in the system is AI algorithm that detects and analyzes images and follow the designated person so that it cannot be confused the person with other people. 

Market Prospects
Led by leadership of CEO Donggeong Kim and CTO Younghwan Park, who has built 23 years of R&D capability in the field, THiRA Robotics is targeting to achieve 10% domestic market share within this year and 50% next year. As a long term goal, THiRA Robotics is ambitious to grow the business as the top 10 in the world. <PowerKorea>

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