Regardless of what people say, building products for outdoor environments is a very challenging problem. Making the product resistant to extreme weather conditions while solving the navigational problems was turning out to be a nightmare. The slightest cloud cover or a building obstruction would cause the entire navigation system to fail and you are left with a blind robot. This gave us the insight that instead of fighting an expensive battle with the elements with our limited budget, we should instead choose our battles more wisely.
So, we turned our sight inward. The industrial market had always seemed very lucrative. The possibility of scale with a more reliable technological system for localization and navigation made it much more attractive than the harsh outdoors. We then got around to designing our first indoor platform. The fundamental focus of the design was to make the system much more manoeuvrable especially in turning situations while handling heavier payloads. By switching to a 2-wheel differential drive, we were able to get the system to turn in a more circular path than was possible with Copernicus. And like we usually do, this formed the basis for the new product’s name. We decided to name it Magellan, after the famous explorer who first proved that the earth was round. (It was not perhaps the best choice for a name, and we have now renamed it to MAG for Moving All Goods)
Compared to Copernicus, the design problems for MAG were more around improving product performance as far as possible. As we now started to work with industrial clients, high product accuracy and reliability were default requirements rather than bonus value propositions. Getting the products to work precisely and accurately over extended deployment periods was the new challenge from both a software and hardware perspective, one that proved to be one of the most exciting challenges that we have taken on as a team. From initial worries of whether our system could handle payload of 50 kg, we were now worried about how we could find 300-500 kg of weights to test our system with.
The MAG designs have gone through 3 revisions so far, with the system becoming more reliable than the previous version. And we are now working actively on our latest product that can handle payloads between 0.5 and 1 tonne, and this will be the best product that we built to date. Stay tuned!