While some debate the merits of autonomous or driverless vehicles, the technology’s influence is beginning to have far-reaching impacts.
First, the same Light Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) platforms which use lasers and sensors to help driverless cars safely navigate highways and city streets, were modified for use in warehouse robots.
These co-bots use LIDAR, additional sensors, and wireless transmitters to map the layout of the warehouse and factory floor in filling orders or replenishing work cell parts and supplies more quickly.
At the recent IFA show in Berlin, which is Europe’s leading consumer electronics show, Panasonic unveiled their Movable Fridge. It uses LIDAR in a similar way to map out a person’s living space in delivering its fresh, cool contents to your couch or recliner.
The Movable Fridge responds to voice commands. So, when it’s summoned during a crucial stage of a football game, or just because those dozens of steps seem way too daunting at the end of a hard day, the Movable Fridge can scurry from its home position in delivering your snack of choice.
In addition to the convenience benefits, Panasonic points out that a mobile fridge would offer a key advantage to those with mobility challenges, including the elderly or handicapped.
One detail that’s still pretty vague is the unit’s power source. The use of either a docking station or wireless charging seem to be the leading options.
On the downside, Panasonic hasn’t announced a release date but feels their Movable Fridge should be available within the next six years.