As companies begin to source their urethane parts state-side, UI is fielding more RFQs for some very interesting robotic applications.

Applications include custom rollers that comprise the mecanum wheels that go on mobile robots used in warehouse and industrial settings to hardened covered bearings for autonomous vehicles – for example, remotely operated vehicles sent into facilities to check for gas leaks.

A flooring manufacturer inquired about custom wheels for their suite of material handling cobots. These remotely operated robots, slung low to the ground, were massive in size – flatbeds on wheels – and could handle two to three tons of building material.

As technology advances, how robots and autonomous vehicles are put to use continues to grow. Here are a few applications that you may or may not know about.


FarmDroid is the world’s first weeding and seeding mobile robot. According the company website, “FarmDroid FD20 is a solar panel driven field robot that, by using a GPS signal, marks the placement of the crops at sowing and subsequently performs mechanical weed control both between and in the rows.”

It also completely minimizes the need for weed control!

Military & Defense

One robot used by the Armed Forces is the 510 PackBot, a multi-mission tactical mobile robot developed by Endeavor Robotics (formerly iRobot). According to the Army-Technology website, the PackBot was designed for use by troops and first responders “to carry out dangerous missions in high-threat battlefield scenarios.”

It’s also quite versatile. The unit performs surveillance and reconnaissance, detection of specific substances, and bomb disposal, to name a few things.

Supermarkets & Retail

Chains such as Stop & Shop, Giant, and Walmart all use robots to perform specific tasks. At Stop & Shop, a robot called Marty travels up and down aisles alerting store personnel to hazards, such as spills.

Another supermarket chain, Giant Eagle, uses Tally, manufactured by Simbe Robotics, to monitor inventory on store shelves. Watch this video to see how it works.


SMP Robots manufactures the S6.2p Gas Leak Inspection Robot. Designed for automated mobile inspection of oil and gas infrastructure sites, the robot provides remote detection of gas leaks. It can locate methane from 33 yards away!

These are just a few of the robot applications now becoming commonplace as companies and industries use automation to save time and free employees to perform higher value tasks.

And, many of them incorporate urethane wheels (you were wondering when we’d get to that part).

If you need custom urethane wheels or rollers for your robotic application, give UI a call. No matter the application or vehicle type, we can manufacture what you need – as well as create highest-quality cores and hubs at our in-house machine shop.

And, everything is made right here in New Bern, NC – for fast turnaround and shipping.

See our Robots Wheels page for detailed capabilities.