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Affordable Robots to Democratize Film and Video Motion Control

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Ground Drone (Affordable Robots to Democratize Film and Video Motion Control)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-07-31

The EU is betting on the re-vitalisation of its industry, in the deployment of automation solutions and on the digitisation of industrial processes. The modernisation of the industrial sector is seen as strategic and a prerogative for European enterprises to remain competitive in the near future. To that end, a number of actions were set forward by the EU to instigate a strategic shift from an industrial cost-based model into an high performance and ICT-enabled one, directed towards the creation of high added value products and to the creation of industries with a sustainable growth. One of the key aspects of this strategy consisted on the instigation of the deployment of robotic systems in industrial settings.

The deployment of industrial robotic systems has two main barriers: price and operational complexity; while the price of robots and their components has been progressively dropping, the need for technically skilled works is on an upward trend. In the world of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), we found that the operation systems used for robot automation are complex and intricate and require strong technical skills. Considering the already pressing need for digitally skilled workers, the use of these operating systems further complicates the deployment and operation of robots in industrial settings. Additionally, companies that want to break into the AGV field by retrofitting existing products will need to have dedicated teams composed of highly skilled works, which is not feasible for many enterprises and creates a strong barrier to product innovation.

At this time there’s no solution in the market that purely supplies a commercial framework focused on the software component for the development of autonomous robots, which we believe is limiting the number of new AGV applications. With MOV.AI we will address this issue; MOV.AI will be a software framework that will allow the transformation of any mobile machine into an autonomous robot. The framework includes graphical and visual programming to configure the operation of AGV in a visual way, greatly diminishing the need for highly skilled technical labour. Our estimation is that MOV.AI will save 50% of the development time and costs of companies hoping to launch AGV products, which will ultimately be reflected on end-user costs and will contribute to the uptake of AGVs across distinct industrial settings and to the overall automation of industry.
The objectives of the present feasibility study were to determine the future viability of Ground Drone and to assess whether or not our present model would lead to a successful enterprise. To that end we followed the previously defined objectives in the SME Instrument Phase 1 proposal.

The objectives and main conclusions obtained are described below:

· Technological Feasibility Study: during Phase 1, we launched a pilot in partnership with a robotic hardware company to test our MOV.AI framework within an industrial context; the pilot along with our market assessment and Phase 2 pilot assignment, allowed us to determine the needed technical features of MOV.AI that still need to be developed and implemented.

· Market Assessment: we looked into market segments, trends and needs. This reshaped our business model. Our new product will be called MOV.AI and it will be a framework that easily transforms mobile equipment into autonomous robots. When we looked at the various market segments and applications we realized that the industrial robotics segment showed tremendous potential and this became our target segment. We also launched a website for our newly envisioned solution.

· Partner Search: once we decided on our new business model as software developers, we looked for partners that would be interested in testing our new model in their current equipment. The companies we have approached have shown high interest in our MOV.AI framework.

· Business Model Assessment: We established a complete business model based on the newly envisioned solution, the MOV.AI framework; our value propositions are based on the fact that MOV.AI is cheaper than current competitor solutions, it’s more convenient and easier to use, and shortens the time to market of our partner’s solutions; we defined future partners and clients along with the necessary key activities that we will offer, based on stakeholder needs; finally we identified the required channels for future MOV.AI commercialization and dissemination.

· Risk Assessment: Considering our target market segments and technical development tasks, we analysed the risks involved with the MOV.AI project and their likelihood, and determined mitigation actions and contingency plans. In light of the high business potential of MOV.AI and despite the identified risks, we still believe that MOV.AI is a project worth pursuing.

· IP Assessment: a brief analysis of existing patents didn’t show any main concerning issues; IP protection will prevent other competitors from reducing our market share by creating competitive barriers.

· Work Plan for Phase 2: Based on the initial targeted market segments we determined the necessary future features of MOV.AI and established a detailed work plan for the development and market launch of our innovative solution.

· Business Plan: Based on our market analysis, current competitor solutions, and on our MOV.AI value propositions, we established a marketing and sales strategy for MOV.AI; our analysis indicates that MOV.AI has the potential to be highly profitable, the potential in MOV.AI as turn the project into the main focus of our company.
MOV.AI will be a software framework, composed of a navigation-based artificial intelligence, that can transform any mobile machine into an autonomous robot. The framework will be based on Robot Operating System (ROS) but we will add a simplification layer, custom made for each product that can easily be used and accessed, without the need to directly access ROS. This new interface will allow graphical and visual programming to configure ROS in a visual way, greatly diminishing the need for highly skilled technical labour. MOV.AI will work as middleware for third party developers to add functionalities to automation systems and it will allow the integration of new software and hardware as needed – clients will be able to upgrade systems as prices go down or new functionalities are launched. We estimate that MOV.AI will save 50% of the development time and costs of companies hoping to launch AGV products.
TugBot working with a Kuka Arm