L'OmniBox de Meanwhile

The OmniBox, the hidden face of autonomous mobile robotics

Naturally, when we mention the term autonomous mobile robotics, we immediately think of mobile robots capable of navigating in complex environments between operators and handling equipment, while ensuring optimal efficiency in their transport. These robots allow users to focus on their higher value-added tasks while the Mobile Cobots take care of transporting products from one station to another. Meanwhile autonomous mobile robots will adapt to their environment both in their navigation (visible phase) but also in their communication with existing equipment.

So how is this communication possible? How can the robot interact with non-communicating equipment?

In order to be able to be deployed as easily as possible, the Collaborative Mobile Robot must be able to dialogue with its environment. Today, the solutions most often used consist of grafting onto existing processes in an invasive way. These actions are often costly, difficult to implement by integrators and risky for the operator.

This is why Meanwhile offers, in addition to its Autonomous Mobile CoBots, a connected, complete system linked to the establishment’s IT architecture and databases. This system interfaces with customer processes, ERPs, automation, operator terminals, etc. Thanks to this connected system – called OmniBox – the Cobots Mobiles Meanwhile connect very simply to establishments. Thus, they are able, among other things, to use elevators/lifts, to open doors independently and to load/unload bins on fixed conveyors without human intervention.

Meanwhile offers its Omnibox as a fixed device to Mobile Robots to ensure this missing connection between the two entities. The OmniBox is a small computing unit capable of communicating with the mobile robot (via Wifi, Bluetooth, infrared or any other wireless protocol) and performing functions on the fixed equipment. This solution transforms customer hardware into connected hardware.

OmniBox - Meanwhile


It is a fixed device allowing simple interfacing between autonomous mobile robots and existing machines and other plant equipment, thus improving the user experience.

The OmniBox comes in the form of a small box (120 mm x 120 mm x 30 mm) which allows interconnection between the existing (machines, production manager, etc.) and new devices.

… a business-oriented interface

The development of communication gateways to existing protocols in industries, allows the OmniBox a business-oriented interfacing dedicated to the control of the fleet of mobile cobots. This interfacing is achieved through touch screens, light indicators (up to 6 actuators or light indicators) or sound indicators, camera systems, etc.

The possible communication media of the OmniBox:

  • Lan/Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • Optical
  • Digital inputs/outputs
  • Control of actuators

Compatible with your future developments

In addition to being compatible with current applications, the OmniBox is able to accommodate future developments that will have other specificities. Thus, the extensions are stackable complementary modules or with the possibility of positioning them separated and connected by a means of communication between the intelligences. The main module embeds the majority of the intelligence to allow the future development of basic solutions.

Application of Omnibox in industry

The most common application today is the integration of the OmniBox in industry. The solution is integrated on gravity storage racks. The laser cells allow the detection of the presence of crates and the action of a jack releases these crates.

Why is this communication essential?

Currently, we have seen that many technologies dedicated to the Industry of the Future are on the market: sensors, 3D printing, robots, autonomous vehicles, IoT, IO-Link, etc. Competition is strong and to protect themselves, manufacturers push to consume their products by making the possibilities of communication between technologies of different brands more complex. Manufacturers are therefore led to buy products of the same brand or to have many technologies that do not communicate (or little) with each other. This complicates their use and reduces the outlook for the industry. However, this vision is not part of that of the Industry of the Future.

Collaborative interoperability between Mobile Cobots and existing hardware is key to improving customer productivity. In order to optimize and accelerate the integration of mobile robots within the different environments in which they are required to evolve, it is necessary to create interaction with the already existing infrastructure. The OmniBox has therefore been designed to reduce integration costs. It is indeed a generic and modular solution which makes it possible to adapt to different applications as well as to different environments.