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10 Fastest Growing Robotics Companies 2018

Creating robot systems to go where people can’t go: Penguin Automated Systems Inc.

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It’s often said industrial robots have made their biggest mark in the world but it took many decades of refinement for them to get there. Today, robots are an essential part of making automotive plants competitive. In recent years, over half of industrial robot purchases in North America have been made by automakers. And not just automotive industry, robotics, and AI are used in almost all the fields today, from the food industry to aeronautics. Robotics technology seems to be on the threshold of going mainstream.

Penguin Automated Systems Inc. (“Penguin”) is a company engaged in the business of developing mobile robotic systems. Penguin has developed and continues to develop the tele-autonomous robotic technologies to create the mobile equivalent of the automobile assembly line for mining at their Research Centre in Sudbury. Those technologies comprise, among other things, telecommunication systems and equipment, sensory systems and equipment, computer systems, computer software and actuation systems which enable the development of robotic solutions for the mining industry and other industries.

Important systems developed by Penguin include its Tele-robotic Reconnaissance System, its Underground Positioning System and its Optical Communication System. Penguin has developed these technologies with the support and assistance from a number of government agencies including FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. Furthermore, the company is committed to the development of intellectual property as a basis for supporting growth in Northern Ontario. Penguin is engaged in consulting and development work with leading companies in Canada and many other countries.

The Genesis of the Innovative Behemoth

Dr. Greg Baiden, along with a team of academics and specialists generated futuristic thinking through his Canadian Research Chair, which focused on application of teleoperated robots as unit operations in the mining production process. Each robot performs a function and gathers data for the next process. As each of the processes are coordinated the robots work back-to-back and end up putting all tasks in tunnels together to make a tunnel or produce ore. This kind of system required the coordination of many robots in a collaborative fashion. This allows manufacturing thinking to be applied in mining. With the vision for the future of applying robotics with the human touch, Penguin Automated Systems Inc. was born in 2000.

This R&D was conducted to address key issues: safety in mines, declining economic value of mines in a developed country, and addressing the issues of waste elimination. Research and development indicated numerous advantages of the robotic mining technology through the application of this thinking. Since then research has grown exponentially and is now being commercialized by Penguin at its facilities at the Penguin Research Center to the west of Sudbury in Naughton, Ontario.

The Unending Research and Development

The surveying and mapping robot was the first project that was completed by Penguin. The extremely successful robot is a ground based droid that uses a specially modified Position, Location and Navigation system or PLANS. M3D2 was built with a laser scanning system that created maps in non-GPS environments while the robot was teleoperated from a safe location several kilometers away.

Penguin has several patented core technologies that allow mobile robotic operations:

  • The wireless communications technology was developed to support the teleoperation of robots and sensors systems. This specific technology enables large amounts of data to be run over vast networks effectively.
  • The non-GPS positioning system was developed to operate in the subsurface.
  • The first and second technologies allow Penguin the ability to interface gaming technology which together provides positional information about the robot in subsurface space.

There are several new products that Penguin is getting ready to roll out into the market, which includes the Hang-Up Robot and the Mapping and Scanning Droid, M3D2.

Key Outcomes

This work has resulted in the creation of

  • large scale cooperative robots for the safe dismantling of mining blast patterns. The trio of robots perform distinctly different functions, all teleoperated wirelessly from a “container” via a 400 Mb/s network over 600 metres. The robots consisted of a Telecommunication Robot doubling as an investigation system, an Auger Robot for removal of the bulk explosive and a Picker Robot for the removal of a primer and detonator. This large scale “cooperative” robotic system was put into operation in 2016.
  • The Hang-up Assessment and Removal System for performing one of the most dangerous tasks in mining using teleoperation so as not to expose the human operator to danger. This system combines all of Penguin’s know how in optical networking, real time control, non-GPS mapping and augmented reality to make the process safe.
  • As well as other work being done in confidential relationships for Penguin’s clients.

The Future Roadmap

According to the current industry scenario and taking leading players into consideration, Penguin has no competitors in the industry. The company differentiates itself from its peers through futuristic thinking and of course its groundbreaking technologies. With the steadfast vision, Penguin continues to push the envelope in the core technologies to increase the amount of wireless capability, resulting in an improved positioning technology for unstructured environments where a significant portion of the environment is unknown and previously considered not possible.

The Founding Father

Dr. Greg Baiden is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Penguin Automated Systems Inc. Dr. Baiden holds a Ph.D. in Mining Engineering with a specialty in technology and economics and was a Professor at the Laurentian University School of Engineering where he taught Mining and Automation Robotics. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Canadian Research Chair in Robotics and Mine Automation.

As an international authority in the field of Robotics and Automation, Dr. Baiden is a sought-after consultant, lecturer and speaker and has received numerous awards and distinctions in recognition of his visionary leadership. Dr. Baiden holds a number of patents in mining automation systems including robotic positioning systems for applications in open pit, underground, subsea and space environments.

A member of Inco Limited’s Senior Management Team from 1986 - 2001, Dr. Baiden was responsible for all corporate mining research. This research involved pioneering telerobotic systems within the company and globally and included the conceptualization and implementation of the world’s first robotic mine prototype at the 175 Ore Body. Dr. Baiden was also the President of Automated Mining Systems, a spin-off of Inco Limited, specializing in communications and control systems for future mine production technology.

Dr. Baiden has served on the Board of Directors for Precarn Incorporated, the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and the Art Gallery of Sudbury among others.

“Our mission is to perform private research and development to create technologies and systems for our clients to apply to improve safety, resource utilization, and financial performance.”

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