Holtsville, New York, USA
Zebra Technologies Corporation creates the EMA 50 Mobile Automation Systems, an autonomous front-of-store inventory scanning robot that collects 2D and 3D images of shelves whilst shoppers are in-store, checking whether inventory is correct and readily available.
The project has been awarded a 2021 Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies for its innovation.
EMA50 processes the data on board and issues real-time corrective actions to store associates’ mobile devices and key insights to store managers, improving store performance and shopper experience.
As EMA50 will operate unassisted, safety was a paramount design criterion. EMA50 incorporates numerous safety sensors including a LiDAR light curtain, ToF cameras, Lidars, bumper triggers, and an easily accessible E-stop button.
The design is inherently stable due to the low center of weight and wide castor wheelbase.
The design communicates safety through soft, simple shapes and a low visual center of mass.
That was a critical element of the design.
The advanced sensing technology requires over 50 FoV openings out of the device.
The impact of these was reduced by creating windows that use re-occurring simple shapes, grouping sensors where possible utilizing symmetry to reduce the visual noise.
Large horizontal blocks of muted neutral colors were used with soft surfaces to create a non-imposing device that does not attract customer attention allowing it to perform its tasks autonomously, un-assisted, and uninterrupted.
Panel part lines have been integrated with styling grooves to help break up the form whilst allowing easy access to critical components for servicing.
EMA50’s RGB LED light band communicates robot intent with regards to the action it is performing and what action it will take next. This increases predictability with shoppers.
The light band communicates the intention in a passive manner without drawing too much unnecessary attention.
The mast area has been designed with large panels with only one direction of curvature, allowing easy customer branding via printed vinyl wraps.
A panel construction allows for easy access to on-site servicing and upgradability reducing the need for shipping back for repairs.
An invisible screw approach is used with lockable keystone panels ensuring a tamper-proof design that’s easy to clean and fits aesthetically into the retail environment.
Only a trained technician can remove keystone panels, exposing screws for the adjacent panels.
As EMA50 is provided as part of a subscription-based solution, onsite serviceability was an important factor in the design allowing for repairs, improvements, and upgrades to be made.
Project: EMA50 Mobile Automation Systems
Designers: Zebra Innovation and Design Team, Zebra Technologies Corporation
Manufacturer: Zebra Technologies Corporation