One of the most popular questions our team receives from top tier robotics divisions like you is “what’s really different about your solution?” Aside from the fact that Clearpath platforms are rugged, reliable, and robust, they’re also delivered out-of-the-box ready. It’s a quick phrase and sounds nice, but what does it really mean? We sat down with our Systems Integration Technologist (or as we like to call him: Jack-of-all-robots), Jeff, to shed some light on this topic as he’s ‘the guy’ to finalize customer solutions before shipping them off to their final destination.
What do you mean ‘fully integrated’?
What makes Clearpath robots out-of-the-box ready is that they are fully integrated; the sensors, software, hardware, APIs, appliances, and additional payloads are combined to work as one efficient unit. In other words, we… well, the jack-of-all-robots team… does the grunt work so you don’t have to.
“Integration is often viewed as one of the most valuable elements of our business offering.” Explains Jeff. “In fact, long-term customers like University of Toronto and GE have mentioned to us that integration is one of the hardest parts of executing robotics solutions.” Luckily, our team of experts is here to help!
If you’re purchasing a robot you’ve most likely done your homework, and what you may have found is that other distributors offer similar, or the same, payloads and accessories at a cheaper price point. So you think, “I’ll just purchase the accessory from that company, integrate it with my Clearpath platform by myself, and I’ll be ahead a couple dollars.” This is a totally viable option; however, as Jeff explains “integrating is a difficult thing and it will most likely take you more time than you’d like to hack a solution together.” So, a highly advanced robotic solution may not be the best starting point for your DIY project. After all, Clearpath got its start because researchers wanted to spend more time researching and less time building platforms. On the flip side, you might be an expert and have no trouble at all integrating (if this is the case, apply here!)
There’s a variety of factors that play into Clearpath’s integrated solutions. With our years of experience, and our highly skilled team, we’ve worked out the kinks. “Some sensors are plug and play, others, not so much!” says Jeff. “We know the tricks and workarounds necessary to get even the most sophisticated sensors and hardware fully integrated for your platform. We’ve spent hours – even days – to get it right.”
The benefits of an unmanned expert
Here’s a breakdown of some of – what we think – are the most important benefits provided when it comes to integrating your robotic solution:
Time savings: This is by far the most valuable take-away from having us do the dirty work for you. One of the biggest concerns we receive from researchers who decide to integrate themselves relates to sourcing and installing sensors – unforeseen problems happen. Including the specification, procurement, mechanical mounting and troubleshooting, integrating a new sensor can take months on your own, but we have the tools, parts, and experience to often get the job done in a few weeks.
Solid mechanical design: We guarantee that neither the robot nor the attached sensor(s) will sustain damage due to poor mounting or under-engineered design. If on the off chance something does happen, it’s covered under Clearpath’s warranty. Which brings us to the next point…
Warranty coverage: All of Clearpath’s integration projects are warrantied for 1 year. The platforms are designed for custom payloads and prototyping, but we can only support or warranty the product up to a certain point if it is opened by the customer and internals are modified. This is usually required with manipulation integrations such as UR5, which requires our research platforms to be opened all the way to the chassis. In this scenario, the structural integrity would be compromised, so we recommend you let our team help you out!
Professional Finish: We don’t call ourselves unmanned experts for nothing! Our work is not only functional, it looks good as well. Cables are cut to fit, connected, and bundled up for a clean, tidy look and payloads are securely mounted. These may seem like minor details to some, but the look of your solution is reflective of your project and your team, and possibly further grant funding, so it’s important to take these items into consideration – especially if you plan to photograph or present your solution to peers, superiors, clients and/or the general public.
Priority Support: Although all of our customers are VIP , it’s important to recognize that we have a much deeper knowledge (and documentation) of solutions that we have integrated. Therefore, we provide priority support for solutions we provided integration for. This means that your solution will be adjusted and returned to you faster with less interruption time in your research.
Software: We make sure the payloads are working properly, communicating with ROS, and tied together with a common urdf. This process can often require days of effort if you are unfamiliar with ROS. This is a specialty of our team’s since we wrote the ROS drivers for many common payloads.
In general, our service simply reduces risk: risk of damage, risk of time delays, risk of “thrown together” workmanship. We care about your timelines, your reputation, and the success of your projects, which is why we offer fully integrated packages.
If you have questions about which sensors or manipulators easily integrate with Clearpath platforms, get in touch with one of our unmanned experts today.