A French company called Exotec Solutions has unveiled its warehouse robot, which looks similar to the mobile autonomous vehicles from a number of other companies.
The market for such vehicles has been expanding, at least in terms of the number of companies offering solutions.
It remains to be seen how well they sell, but if Amazon’s heavy utilisation of similar logistics robots is anything to go by, the market is likely to grow fast.
Exotec says its vehicle can carry boxes racked up to 10 metres high, and can move four to five times faster than “the industry standard”, whatever that is. In numbers, it’s 10 mph.
Called Skypod, the new robot was featured on VentureBeat.com, which reports that the French e-commerce company is already using the Exotec robot in its Bordeaux warehouse, to pack and prepare orders.
Venture Beat quotes Exotec CTO Renaud Heitz as saying the robotic system is designed to ensure “fast deployment and full scalability”.
Heitz adds: “Skypod’s free navigation allows the robots to travel anywhere within the system, something the competition can’t offer today.
“The system’s software is powered by the latest artificial intelligence, allowing us to deploy on-site within days instead of weeks.”
Heitz, who previously worked for GE Healthcare as a software architect, is one of the founders of Exotec.
The other founder is Romain Moulin, a former BA Systèmes technical director.
The main reason why companies like Exotec are probably in line for growth is that online shopping and e-commerce is expanding rapidly, and it relies on warehouses, and they, in turn, are increasingly relying on automation systems to turn around orders in as short a time as possible.
Some would credit Amazon as having shown the way, with highly automated warehouses featuring literally thousands of robots each.
Such a structure enables Amazon, believed to be the world’s largest online retailer, to offer customers next-day or even same-day deliveries.
Moulin says: “E-commerce is changing the game in the logistics industry.
“To respond to today’s market requirements, companies are putting the emphasis on deployment speed and flexible deployment capability, rather than heavy fixed infrastructure, in order to best respond to rapid fluctuations in demand.”