Friday 13th Dec 2019 - Logistics Manager Magazine

DB Schenker deploys autonomous mobile robots as “next-generation supply chain”

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DB Schenker has put Gideon Brothers’ autonomous logistics robots into service at its Leipzig, Germany, facility following a successful trial. 

The Gideon Brothers robot is able to move 800kg and is designed to navigate safely around people and equipment, as well as moving other machines. It is also equipped with a visual perception-based robot autonomy system, which integrates machine learning with stereoscopic cameras to create next generation robot visual capabilities.

The robots also feature a hot-swappable battery system, allowing minimum downtime for recharging.

Xavier Garijo, member of the board, contract logistics at Schenker, said: “In our drive to offer strategic advantages for our clients in the increasingly complex digital environment, DB Schenker continuously explores opportunities to integrate innovations from visionary start-up companies.

“Delivering automation possibilities for logistics and warehouse operations is a foundation for building the next-generation supply chain.”

During the pilot, robots automated tasks associated with regular order fulfillment, speeding it up and allowing employees to focus on more complex tasks. A few weeks into the project, DB Schenker expanded the pilot by adding a significant number of new pick-up and drop-off points.

In the first month of the pilot, a typical distance covered by a robot surpassed 26 km per week.

Matija Kopić, chief executive and co-founder of Gideon Brothers, said: “Our machines perceive the world just like we do – by processing visual inputs and understanding what surrounds them and how it relates to their tasks.

“This is a technological leap. Self-driving machines, powered by vision and AI, will succeed where earlier technology failed – it will become ubiquitous in industrial environments. We are incredibly proud to have built a team that has the potential – the vision and expertise – to disrupt material handling in indoor manufacturing and logistics environments.”

Gideon Brothers finalised a second seed financing round earlier this month, raising €2.65 million (£2.3 million), with investors including NJF Capital, whose founder Nicole Junkermann said: “Logistics and intra-logistics have so far seen very little automation as the available technology didn’t offer the level of flexibility most operations need. This is changing.

“Gideon Brothers is one of the few players globally developing – and validating – next-generation autonomy, which places them in a good position to be the company to disrupt material handling.”

By Michelle Mooney