NavWiz – The Intelligence Behind all DF Robots

Main Page of NavWiz Software

NavWiz or Navigation Wizard is a software application for Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) and Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV). NavWiz has all the features required in a modern autonomous mobile robot, such as to program the robot, status monitor, smart navigation, AI and IoT enabled. NavWiz is developed by DF and it is the core of the intelligence behind all AMR and AGV from DF. NavWiz has won multiple awards and recognition in national and international.
NavWiz first released in 2016 and there are continuous ongoing new features and technologies improvement addition throughout the year to stay relevant in this fast moving technology era.
NavWiz is a software hosted in DF robots. It provides browser-based user interface to the users. It can be accessed from any devices such as laptops, tablets or phones regardless of the device operating system through the standard internet browser.
There are 3 main elements in NavWiz which are the Mapping and Routing, Task Programming and Task Runner.


Mapping and Routing

Mapping is the configuration of the sitemap for NavWiz to understand the area for navigation. During the setup, the AMR needs to be brought around to capture the surrounding features and form the map. Once the map is formed, it will be used by NavWiz as the reference for AMR localisation. Mapping is a one time job and doesn’t require revisiting again, unless there is a major change in the layout of the navigation area. Figure 2 illustrates the map generated after the mapping.

Figure 2: Mapping of Trackless AMR

Routing is the configuration of the AMR running path, by just drawing the lines on NavWiz. Routing can be done for two types of robots which are tracked AGV and trackess AMR.
For tracked AGV, it navigates purely based on the guidance of magnetic strip and the AGV position is determined from the magnetic tapes junctions. Figure 3 illustrates the routing of a tracked AGV on NavWiz.

Figure 3: Routing of Tracked AGV

For trackless AMR, routing is done on top of the map generated from Mapping. The AMR will navigate based on the path with the reference to the surrounding natural features. Users can mark the position of the Stations on the path. By doing this, AMR will know it’s starting point and the destination, at the same time identify its current position by comparing the surrounding features with the map features. Figure 4 shows the mapping and routing of the trackless AMR.

Figure 4: Routing of trackless AMR 


Task Programming

Task Programming is the part to program the robot to perform the tasks or actions as required by the user. The programming is a graphical flowchart. It can create tasks. By just clicking and dragging the lines connecting the Tasks together, the AGV will know the sequence of the tasks and it can also make simple decisions based on specific conditions. 
With the mapping and routing in place, users can program the robot to move from station to station. A complete AMR application, for example, delivery of raw material trolley from Warehouse to the Assembly Lines; consists of multiple Tasks. To break it down, the first Task will be AMR moving from charging station to Warehouse, second Task will be collecting the raw material trolley, the third Task will be delivery of the trolley to the assembly line and finally, the last Task is leaving the trolley at the assembly line and go back to the charging station. 
Each Task is a single specific AMR action. In order to program the AMR to perform a complete meaningful application, all these Tasks need to be linked together. The compilation of multiple tasks to form a complete AMR application is called Task Template.
Figure 5 shows the standard Task Template in NavWiz.
More importantly, there is a list of closed to 100 standard library blocks which can be used to speed up the development process. Standard actions such as “Navigate to Station”, “Wait for Button”, “Read IO”, “Write IO”, “Play Music”…etc, can be found from the list and imported into the task template. With this flowchart based programming method, users do not have to work on low level programming anymore, making the programming of DF robots easier, flexible and more expandable.

Figure 5: Task Templates Robot Programming 

Task Runner

After completing the mapping and task template, users can find the list of the task templates on the Task Runner page (Figure 6). Each time the AMR can only execute one task template, the next task template triggered will be queued under the queuing list. The supervisor is able to set the priority for each queuing task template, as well as removing the task template from the queuing list if it’s necessary.
 Once the task template is completed, it will be logged into the AMR system as the record for tracing. Users can find the daily, weekly or even monthly completed task template from the History tab and Report page. 
NavWiz provides a graphical reporting page (Figure 7) for users to view, as well as to download the performance of the AMR into CSV format for easier reporting and review.

Figure 6: The Task Runner Page 

Figure 7: Reporting Page displaying the record of robot activities


Other Features

Other than the 3 main elements, NavWiz features some handy applications to help with the operation of the AGV system (Figure 8). 

Figure 8: Other Features on NavWiz Software

Engineers can perform Action Test, Calibration, Hardware Test, Homing, Manual Line Follow and Wifi Test to assist in the routine maintenance activities.
Besides, users can check the robot’s current map and the real time scanning profile through the Map tab. Status tab is where the users can observe the robot’s condition which includes CPU power consumption, Line Sensor Status, Power Condition and much more. (Figure 9). 

Figure 9: Robot Status Page


NavWiz is being used by all robots from DF, from the smallest FDR Sushi Delivery Robot, to the Titan heavy duty 1 Tonne Autonomous Mobile Robot. With this NavWiz software, the method of programming of the Robots is the same, regardless of its model and physical outlook.
 The software is still evolving in time to suit the customer needs. With the NavWiz components and IoT infrastructure in place, the development design cycle is being shortened significantly. 
In advance of industrial 4.0 application, The next major improvement of NavWiz will be focusing more on the big data collection and visualisation. 

Figure 10: Navwiz – Intelligence Behind all DF AMR and AGV













Get a closer view on the NavWiz features and the programming of DF AMR robots from the video below!

Author by: Chia Chin Wee  I  Yeong Che Fai  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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UTM, HCTM & DF Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ to Ace COVID-19

UTM, HCTM & DF Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ to Ace COVID-19

JOHOR BAHRU , 7 Apr. — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM) and DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd (DF) have joint together in a significant collaboration to develop a Hospital Delivery Robot System.
The robot, named MCK19 or Makcik Kiah 19, is the First Malaysian Made Delivery Robot for hospitals to assist healthcare frontliners in assisting the delivery of healthcare to patients with COVID-19.
The project embarked during the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced.

Delivery Robot MCK19

Figure: A user is interacting with MCK19.
MCK19 uses Zalpha, a DF’s commercial robot that can accommodate weight up to 300kg in its shelves and able to navigate autonomously to assist doctors or nurses in delivering food or medicine to a patient’s room.
The usage of these robots especially MCK19 will reduce the exposure of healthcare professionals and frontliners to patients under investigations (PUI) that may be highly contagious and need to be in isolation.
Hence, it would also decrease in the need for PPEs as hospitals are facing a global shortage.
This prototype had been modified and integrated with compartments’ storage which can be customised according to need.
There is a LCD screen on the robot to show an animated face to make the robot more human friendly, and soon, it can be used for teleconference between doctors from his room/office with patients, without having the doctor to go to the their room.

Figure: Left picture: Compartment’s shelves that can be customised. Right Top picture: LCD screen shows animated friendly face. Bottom Right Picture: Graphical User Interface.
This robot is also an IoT robot where it can be accessed by any PC, tablets or phones, allowing users to interact with the robot even if the users are not at the hospital’s premise.
In addition, there is also a security feature in place to allow access by authorised admin only.
The working prototype that took less than two weeks to develop is made possible with the strong support from all parties especially from MOSTI, MITI, MTDC, HCTM, UTM, DF, Ministry of Health, hospitals and industries.
This project is led by co-founder of DF, Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai from School of Electrical Engineering, UTM.
According to him, as DF has provided robotic solutions to industry since 2012, we leverage the robots and experiences we have to achieve the social distance requirement in hospitals between humans during this critical time.
“Robots can help with many tasks to reduce human presence such as for delivering, disinfection, cleaning, monitoring, service and many more.
It is unfortunate that COVID-19 happened and strikes us without any warning. One of the solutions to deal with COVID-19 is to maintain social distance between humans.
MCK19 will be our first pilot trial, if this robot works well, we will proceed to other applications.” he added.
Meanwhile Director of Hospital Canselor Tuanku (HCTM), Ukm, Prof. Dato’ Dr Hanafiah Harunarashid, expressed gratitude on the collaborations.
“On behalf of HCTM (UKM), I am very pleased to collaborate with MOSTI and the team from UTM and DF to develop a hospital delivery robot hospital, the first in Malaysia.
This would be inaugural which is especially useful to aid our overwhelmed healthcare system during this pandemic and outbreak.
I foresee robotics and automation will play an important part in hospitals in near future to enhance the delivery of health care, ” he added.
UTM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid bin Omar said the invention of this robot is another UTM’s helping hand in combating the virus, along with university’s initiatives of to prosper lives.
“As a university that is blessed with multiple expertise, we believe it is our responsibility to help the government especially the frontliners who are struggling to serve the people in this trying times for us all.
Thus through this collaboration we hope that together, we can break the the Covid-19 chain soon,” he added.
MCK19 is expected to be tested at HCTM at the end of this week. If the robot is found useful, DF will commit to mass produce the robot to supply to hospitals in Malaysia or any organisations who need it.
For the long term, the team is planning to produce a more human friendly look and design as in the figure below.
For more. information, please email [email protected] or [email protected].

Delivery Robot MCK20

Figure: Some of the concept designs for future commercial Hospital Delivery Robot

Figure: The team beside the development of MCK19, Hospital Delivery Robot led by Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai (picture second from left)

Figure: Metro Mak Cik Kiah 19 Infographic


Co-authored by: Dr Yeong Che Fai
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AMR: The New Look of AGV

Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR Robot)

What is AGV?

Automated Guided Vehicle or AGV was first introduced by Arthur “Mac” Barrett in 1953. The earliest version of an AGV was a modified tow truck which followed a wire under the floor, allowing it to move and navigate by itself.
Automated Guided Vehicle are used to move things around in the plant facility repetitively. Since its invention, AGVs have been improved to allow it to use alternative guidances such as coloured tape, induction or magnetic tape embedded on the floor plant. However, the AGVs still follow a fixed route, and any route change will require reinstallation of the guidance system. Besides, an AGV is equipped with sensors to detect any obstacles that pop up along its route. To avoid hitting the obstacles, the AGV will slow down or stop moving and alert users by sounding its alarm. It will not be able to change its route or direction.

What is AMR?

AMR stands for Autonomous Mobile Robot. It is a wheeled robot that moves autonomously. Both AMR and AGV share the same functions – moving items from place to place. Sometimes these robots are also called industrial mobile robots. For nearly half a century, AGVs have been moving things around in factories, warehouses and places where material transporting is needed. However, they are challenged by the introduction of new technologies implemented by the AMRs, especially in the demand of achieving Industry 4.0, factory automation and smart manufacturing.
The greatest advantage of AMR over AGV is that AMR provides alternative navigation options. An AMR navigates using a predefined map and plans its own routes to the destination. It can detect obstacles similar to an AGV, but it is slightly smarter because it can avoid the obstacles by navigating around it. Therefore, AMR robot is considered more flexible because it can change its path dynamically with less effort. Meanwhile, an AGV is always “guided”, which means that the AGV operates on a fixed route – usually running along magnetic paths or wires. This shows that there are more possibilities for the AMR to perform better in running its job since space limit is not an issue.
Although an AMR robot is sometimes perceived to be much more costly compared to an AGV, in reality, the AMR could be more cost effective due to its flexibility and ease to set up.
The AMR’s main components include the controller board, computing unit, battery, motors, sensors and camera. It also requires some electronic integration including the safety system, drive system, power switch and warning lamp. Another important and often-overlooked component is the software which acts like the brain for the robot. The software allows users to program and interact with the AMR, besides allowing it to move autonomously. For example, DF uses our in-house NavWiz (or Navigation Wizard) software as the brain to run the whole AMR.

AGV vs AMR – what is the difference?

AMR and AGV have been defined differently by various sources. Technically, AGV always refers to a guided vehicle because its navigation is based on physical guides such as coloured tape, magnetic tape and induction wire, while AMR is a mobile robot that plans its own route based on the map which it had created earlier.
In short, both AGV and AMR are similar in terms of their features and functions in supporting logistics activity. This is because both AGV and AMR can autonomously travel in the manufacturing plants and warehouses after being programmed without needing any assistance from humans. By definition, “autonomous” describes the capability of the device acting alone or independently, while “automated” indicates control or operation by a machine or an automatic equipment. This shows that both AGV and AMR have similar meanings, yet they are introduced with different names. The only difference is the ‘navigation technique’ used by AGV and AMR in moving them autonomously.
The usage of the term ‘AGV’ and ‘AMR’ somehow have given some implications on the custom duty when these robots are being imported to certain countries. The word ‘vehicle’ in AGV may mislead the custom officer into thinking AGV is a ‘vehicle’ or ‘car’ which normally has higher custom duty compared to a robot.
Author by: Noor Atikah Soleha Mad Alim  I  Ken Wong  I  Muhammad Sofwan Bin Zamri
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