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Optical guidance method and system - June 2022 update

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The invention proposes to guide a mobile body optically to improve the accuracy of guidance. It spans areas of robotics, user interface, communication, computer vision, and smart home technologies.

The key idea is to show goal positions instead of commanding them numerically. The intuitive interface simplifies directing the robot while visual feedback improves the accuracy of guidance and allows for implicit localization.

My article "Optical guidance method for robots capable of vision and communication" in Robotics and Autonomous Systems Link (PDF) describes the invention more in detail, and an experiment of directing a mobile robot by a laser pointer is shown at Link (YouTube movie).

A leaflet Link (PDF) outlines the patent idea, advantages, market statistics, competitors and forecast.

The patent may be of interest to Samsung Electronics Link - POWERbot™ with PointCleaning™, Mitsubishi Electric Link - Dynamic Sign, Sony Link - Aibo, as well as to SoftBank Robotics, Amazon Robotics, Teradyne, SharkNinja, Shopify, Neato Robotics, Ecovacs, and Google.

Financial information

The robotic vacuum cleaners (RVC) represent 25% of the global vacuum cleaners market of $14 billion in 2020 with such competitors as: iRobot, SharkNinja, Neato Robotics, Ecovacs, Samsung Electronics, Dyson, Moneual, Miele, LG Electronics. The North American RVC market exceeds $963 million in 2020 with 23% CAGR globally in 2012-2020, according to the iRobot Investor Presentation in March 2021: Link .

Samsung Electronics may have been using an optical guidance in POWERbot™ equipped with PointCleaning™ since 2014: Link (excerpts from POWERbot™ User Manual), Link (movie). Claims 1-5, 15-17, 33-34 of U.S. Patent 6629028 may be present in this product. According to Link , POWERbot™ cleaners are sold in the USA: $999 in May 2015.

Note that Samsung Electronics has been aware of U.S. Patent 6629028 as their patent applications on robot guidance by laser pointer (Appl. No. 10/820,037, Pub. No. 2005/0027399 in the USA and Appl. No. 04250986.9, Pub. No. EP1515210 in Europe) did not result in patents.

Samsung Electronics registered a trademark PointCleaning with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on March 5, 2015: serial No. 86555014.

U.S. Patent 9675229 on guidance of a robot cleaner was granted to Samsung Electronics on June 13, 2017. The similar patent application in Europe (Appl. No. 15174995.9, Pub. No. EP2963515) was under examination until December 15, 2021, see the Search Report of Dec. 18, 2015 and Observations by third parties of July 15, 2019 with three non-patent Prior Art publications, which are available at Link . While the third-party observations were found to be relevant, the EPO failed to take due consideration of the evidence and granted a European Patent EP2963515 on December 15, 2021 (Bulletin 2022/22 of June 1, 2022).

The both patents US9675229 and EP2963515 shall be challenged by Ex Parte Reexamination at the USPTO and Opposition to grant of a patent at the EPO because of the Prior Art. The supporting documents are readily available on request, which include the observations in detail and three non-patent Prior Art publications.

Besides the RVC market, Mitsubishi Electric has proposed their Dynamic Sign Link for projecting images such as directions and alerts onto the floors in public facilities. Sony may be interested in an optical guidance of their robot dog Aibo Link .

The patent assignee is Dr. Igor Paromtchik. You may email him by using a button below.

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