Since the launch of Robots Vacuum in 2002, until 2017, careful friends will find that its development has been slow and the user experience is poor. Many people are reluctant to use it after buying it back, mostly for one reason: no eyes , not smart enough.
Putting "eyes" on Robots Vacuum
Robots Vacuum without eyes, like a visually handicapped person, can only rely on groping to determine the direction, that is, only through collision and inertial navigation. After several repetitions, an overall floor plan can be established, and then calculate and plan the path in turn to achieve Functional execution, this purely procedural operation, is bound to have poor results. Because Robots Vacuum has no eyes, it often bumps in one place, or "steps" on dog shit, and the coverage is poor, and there are many places that cannot be cleaned. This is the key to Robots Vacuum's failure to fully popularize for many years. Putting eyes on Robots Vacuum will definitely bring a different experience to the user.
(360° laser scanning)
The development of the industry must also be from non-navigation planning to navigation planning. Although many people realize this, only Xiaomi has successfully completed this leap. The reason is that in order to pursue positioning accuracy, early Robots Vacuum manufacturers introduced lidars that were not technically mature enough for navigation, but because of high hardware costs, and the early technology was not mature enough, the quality was not stable and reliable enough, and the actual application effect was not good. At the same time the price is higher. Xiaomi launched a lidar Robots Vacuum in 2016, which uses an industrial-grade linear CMOS SENSOR from an American company, and the cost is not low, so it can solve the navigation errors caused by inertial navigation and the problems generated during use. The quality is not stable and reliable enough. At the same time, on the other hand, Xiaomi's supply chain system has reduced costs and realized such a relatively mature Robots Vacuum product with lidar. Although the price is still higher, it is this change that has contributed to the development of the industry. Many domestic people of insight realize that if you want to use lidar navigation technology, you need to reduce the cost of lidar in an all-round way, and unreliable performance and quality are the bottlenecks of domestic development, but Xiaomi told domestic manufacturers that efficient sales channels , can achieve cost reduction.
Localization of high-precision positioning vision sensors
It is such a market opportunity that a high-tech enterprise in Shenzhen has found an opportunity that belongs only to China. Using its accumulated technology and experience in the field of high-precision positioning vision sensors to develop a high-quality and low-cost LiDAR will certainly have a bright future in the booming Robots Vacuum market.
(High Accuracy Positioning System)
This company is Shenzhen Camsense Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Camsense"). Since its establishment in 2014, with its profound technical accumulation in high-precision positioning visual sensors, its products are widely used in TV, VR, industry and other fields. Good market landing performance. After seeing the market revolution brought by Xiaomi Robots Vacuum, Camsense began to combine its own technical characteristics to develop consumer-grade LiDAR products for Robots Vacuum with its keen market sense. Camsense utilizes technological innovation to ensure performance. It also reduces the cost by about 40%, which is a huge impact on the Robots Vacuum lidar industry.
A reporter from the Robotic Lecture Hall recently interviewed Christopher, the founder and CEO of Camsense. Christopher told us that different precision requirements create differences in product fields, and also make differences in high-precision positioning vision sensors. Different application fields have different effects on performance, quality and cost. Consideration, so that the sensor needs to consider how to reduce the cost and improve the quality at the beginning of the application, because only in this way can large-scale commercial use be realized. At the same time, Robots Vacuum manufacturers tend to have different degrees of acceptance of new things. They never dare to use them, and it takes a while. Therefore, cost has become a more critical consideration.
Positioning and selection of Camsense
As the core component of Robots Vacuum, lidar has grown from scratch in China and has experienced a painful growth period. First of all, we need to innovate and make breakthroughs in products. Camsense has a good technical foundation. The core R&D team is from Tsinghua University, and has accumulated rich experience in computer vision, spatial positioning, human-computer interaction, semiconductor R&D and marketing. Christopher told us that Camsense has previously shipped industrial-grade products in the industry, such as the Camsense® M Pro series with a positioning accuracy of 0.5mm and the Camsense® S series with a positioning accuracy of < 0.2mm. These high-precision positioning products, in Industrial measurement, UAV, service robot positioning and attitude determination, and higher-precision surgical navigation can all have good utility, but the cost is relatively high under high-precision requirements, and it is not applicable in the field of Robots Vacuum that needs to reduce costs.
Different plans have different effects. Therefore, in the field of Robots Vacuum, Christopher believes that using consumer-grade products for image perception will have an excellent cost reduction effect, and Camsense's high-performance consumer-grade lidar Camsense® X1 came into being. Camsense takes into account that many foreign general-purpose chips are often too comprehensive and not specific, so there are many redundant functions, and they may not be very suitable for robot application scenarios. Therefore, Camsense provides consumer-level area arrays through technological and algorithm innovations. The unique solution of Sensor+ASIC chip is more streamlined than the solution of industrial-grade linear array Sensor+DSP, which makes the image processor specialize in image processing and has no redundant functions, so the cost will naturally decrease, and the algorithm will also play a role. Appropriate use, the anti-interference ability will be stronger, the actual application to the market, the price will be correspondingly lower. At the same time, because Camsense has received large-scale orders, the production cost has also been reduced to a certain extent.
Camsense boasts products in a segmented field, under the premise of ensuring that the product performance is equal to or even higher than its peers, also saves a lot of costs for downstream customers, making its lidar quickly recognized by the market. It is understood that Camsense has now covered domestic and foreign markets. First-tier brands, such as 360, Lenovo, etc. Hundreds of thousands of units shipped in 2019. Compared with 2018 (the official mass production shipment time is September 2018), the sales volume has increased by nearly 20 times, which shows the success of Camsense's technological innovation in lidar.
The market is the battlefield where quality emerges as the core
Of course, the cost ratio is a big factor, but quality is the core test of the final market share of the product. The core advantage of Camsense lies in its high-precision monocular spatial positioning algorithm and corresponding chips and sensor modules. According to the interview, lidar involves a lot of interdisciplinary fields such as optics, mechanical structure, electronics, algorithms, chips, and materials science. To have comprehensive capabilities, you need a strong team and multi-industry talents. This is from Camsense's investment in talents Seems not to be a problem. However, there are no measurable standards in this industry, let alone national standards, so the growth of Robots Vacuum is the process of the gradual formation of lidar standards, and the quality of its products needs to pass the test of the market.
Market standards are constantly being adjusted, and products require repeated iterations to polish and mature the product. "Is it enough if the market is satisfied, not enough!" Christopher told us that Robots Vacuum is a new thing. At first, Camsense's lidar met the customer's requirement that it would not be damaged when dropped from a height of 30cm, but the drop test requirements of different Robots Vacuum manufacturers Different, it is necessary to constantly adjust the standard. Camsense's technicians also considered the problems that may occur in products in extreme cases, such as the busy logistics industry during Double Eleven, and the physical characteristics of precision optical products determine that express transportation will lead to a higher product failure rate, which is not conducive to the product. A new challenge has been raised. Therefore, in the setting of the vibration standard, Camsense directly set the drop standard at 2 meters, and added a drop test of 2 floors of stairs. It is precisely Camsense's strict requirements for products and the highest standards as product standards that lead to today's product quality, which has proven to have won the trust of the market.
Christopher also told us, "As the volume climbs and the scale expands, there will be more problems. From laboratory products to batch products, it needs a lot of improvement. The samples in the laboratory can be made by hand, and the batches can be made through equipment. All require the construction of the overall production line, and when there is no mature production line, it is necessary to invest in research and development to build automated equipment, in order to achieve the creation of standard parts, the threshold is high, and the journey is not easy." Christopher couldn't help but sigh during the interview. The seriousness and perseverance of this entrepreneur. Indeed, the Robots Vacuum market is a fixed and stable growth market. Customers are constantly looking for them under the brand reputation. The greater demand makes manufacturers need to continuously improve product quality. In the face of more special cases, this will affect the market yield rate. Another new challenge.
Finally, we asked Christopher for his views on the future market. He believes that different products will serve different fields and scenarios. In the current service scenario, Robots Vacuum will undoubtedly be the business support point for a long time in the future, and the company will also invest more energy in research and development of new products suitable for this field; and the investment in industrial-grade high-precision positioning systems will also continue. , because the research and development of visual-spatial positioning technology is of great significance to breaking the foreign high-precision monopoly, and it is also the process of establishing enterprise technical barriers. However, for horizontal business field expansion, for enterprises, from investment to R&D, the entire cycle and risk are relatively large. It is an evaluation of a company's comprehensive strength. Iteratively providing new high-end products requires strong strength and more Accumulation, so we will choose the direction more carefully.
Relatively speaking, the application of high-precision positioning technology currently has a very market-oriented application advantage in China, and foreign manufacturers in this field do not have technical advantages. Therefore, Christopher believes that Camsense will steadily expand production capacity for a period of time. Build a good foundation, accumulate technology and capital, and maintain a strong competitive advantage. At the same time, he also joked that at present, it seems that we have been insisting on the visual-spatial positioning system invested in the research and development of the VR/AR field. Although it has not yet been commercialized on a large scale, with the arrival of 5G, the market has begun to pick up, and this field is worth looking forward to. . Doing something, not doing something, cultivating the field and polishing the product, this reflects the responsibility of a company.