Home » ABB’s latest acquisition has an eye for next-gen mobile robots

ABB’s latest acquisition has an eye for next-gen mobile robots

by Mark Cantrell
Technology firm ABB has expanded its capabilities in the field of autonomous robots with the acquisition of a Swiss-based start-up that specialises in AI-enabled 3D-vision navigation.

Technology firm ABB has expanded its capabilities in the field of autonomous robots with the acquisition of a Swiss-based start-up that specialises in AI-enabled 3D-vision navigation.

Sevensense’s pioneering navigation technology combines AI and 3D vision, enabling autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to make ‘intelligent’ decisions, differentiating between fixed and mobile objects in dynamic environments.

Once manually guided, mobile robots with Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (Visual SLAM) technology create a map that is used to operate independently, reducing commissioning time from weeks to days and enabling the AMRs to navigate in highly complex, dynamic environments alongside people.

Maps are constantly updated and shared across the fleet, offering instant scalability without interrupting operations, and greater flexibility compared to other navigation technologies.

The acquisition follows ABB’s minority investment in Sevensense after it joined the company’s innovation ecosystem in 2021; he same year ABB acquired ASTI Mobile Robotics. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics’ discrete automation business area, said: “This marks a significant step towards our vision of a workplace where AI-enabled robots assist people, addressing our customers’ needs for greater flexibility and intelligence amidst critical skilled labour shortages

“Each mobile robot, equipped with vision and AI, scans a unique part of the building; collectively these robots complement each other’s view to form a complete map, enabling them to work autonomously in a rapidly changing environment.”

Following pilot customer projects in the automotive and logistics industries, ABB says it will integrate Sevensense’s technology into the company’s AMR portfolio, offering an “unprecedented combination” of speed, accuracy, and payload.

The market for mobile robots is expected to grow at 20% 2026, from $5.5bn to $9.5bn, and ABB expects this AI-powered 3D vision technology will be at the forefront of this growth.

Marc Segura, president of ABB’s Robotics Division, said: “Offering more autonomy and cognitive intelligence, ABB’s unique market-proven technology paves the way for a shift from linear production lines to dynamic networks.

“Intelligent AMRs autonomously navigate to production cells, tracking stock inventory as they go and sharing this information with other robots, while collaborating safely side-by-side with humans.

“With the acquisition of Sevensense, ABB becomes the leader in next-generation AMRs, offering Visual SLAM in autonomous mobile robots, together with an integrated portfolio covering robots and machine automation solutions, all managed by our value-creating software.”

Gregory Hitz, chief executive of Sevensense, added: “This is a significant moment in our shared journey, as we introduce our home-grown technology to a wider range of markets and sectors. ABB is the ideal home for us to continue scaling our versatile platform for 3D visual autonomy, serving OEMs across the automated material handling and service robotics industries. Together, we will redefine the limits of AI-enabled robotics.”

Sevensense was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from Swiss technical university, ETH Zurich.


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