China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump

China is planning to create what looks like will be the largest, longest and most complex logistics network in history – at a cost to itself of almost $1 trillion. 

The so-called Belt & Road Initiative will virtually encircle China, most of Asia and much of Europe, and will mostly consist of interconnected roads, but will also include sea lanes and railways, and possibly some airways.

In total, it will connect approximately 60 countries, and cost anything between $4 trillion and $8 trillion. And the timescale is anyone’s guess.

The northern parts of the Belt & Road network will include the revival of the ancient Silk Road, which connected China to Persia and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and India, Indonesia and Arabia via sea lanes to the south.  Continue reading China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump

Aethon launches new autonomous mobile robots at Automate 2017

aethon tug

Aethon has demonstrated new products at Automate 2017 in Chicago specifically designed to address the needs of manufacturers looking to automate material movement and connect islands of automation within their plants.

Aethon showcased new mobile robots and software control systems allowing their robotic platform to achieve Level 4 autonomy. (Full list of autonomy levels, as published by SAE.)

Aethon will feature the T3 and T3XL model robots, which represent the newest innovations in automated material movement.  Continue reading Aethon launches new autonomous mobile robots at Automate 2017

Logistics automation startup Grabit ships products to two Fortune 100 companies

grabit

Grabit, a startup automation systems provider to the manufacturing and warehouse logistics industries, has shipped multiple units of its material handling robot, Stackit, to what it says is “an industry-leading athletic shoe and apparel company”.

Grabit also shipped multiple units of Meterit, its “intelligent conveyor system”, to a “global leader” in express package delivery services.

To date, Grabit has secured $25 million in financing from investors and strategic partners. This funding is being applied to develop flexible robotic automation solutions that leverage Grabit’s electroadhesion technology and machine learning software to provide up to 20x productivity improvement for its customers’ operations.  Continue reading Logistics automation startup Grabit ships products to two Fortune 100 companies

Swisslog Americas forms automotive group

swisslog warehouse and distribution

Swisslog Warehouse and Distribution Solutions Americas has formed an automotive group and appointed Terry Krantz as vice president of sales and consulting.

Swisslog Warehouse and Distributions Solutions Americas, a Member of the Kuka Group and leading provider of best-in-class intralogistics solutions, announces the formation of a new automotive business unit focused on developing and delivering intralogistics automation to tier one suppliers and original equipment manufacturers.

Markus Schmidt, president of Swisslog WDS Americas, says: “Tier one suppliers and OEMs have already been turning to Swisslog and benefiting from our turnkey solutions designed to streamline their work-in-process manufacturing, kitting, and parts storage.  Continue reading Swisslog Americas forms automotive group

Fetch Robotics unveils expanded line of autonomous mobile robots

Company says it now offers “comprehensive options” for autonomous collaboration with transport robots

Fetch Robotics has introduced two new autonomous mobile robots to its fleet: Freight500 and Freight1500.

Both new robots, like the Freight predecessor, operate safely in commercial and industrial environments where they are deployed to automate the delivery of bulky and heavy loads.

The company and the new robots were showcased at ProMat 2017 in Chicago, Illinois, a few days ago.  Continue reading Fetch Robotics unveils expanded line of autonomous mobile robots

Kinema Systems claims ‘world’s first deep learning 3D vision system for industrial robots’

kinema systems

Kinema Systems claims to have launched what it describes as “the world’s first deep learning 3D vision system for industrial robots”. 

A large part of the world’s commerce moves in boxes arranged on pallets. Depalletizing boxes in warehouses, distribution centers and factories is a difficult task that has become more challenging with changing demographics and an increase in product mix.

Kinema Pick is claimed to be the world’s first deep learning 3D vision system for industrial robots, and addresses the depalletization of both mixed SKU and single SKU pallets.  Continue reading Kinema Systems claims ‘world’s first deep learning 3D vision system for industrial robots’

Mobile Industrial Robots launches new MiR200 logistics robot

mir 200

Mobile Industrial Robots, a developer and manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots for logistics, has launched its newest robot, the MiR200.

The company says the MiR200 is “a more powerful mobile robot in almost every aspect” than the company’s flagship MiR100, which has already been installed in more than 30 countries by companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Flex, Honeywell, Michelin, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Walmart.

MiR says its vehicles are “a dramatic improvement over legacy automated guided vehicles”, which require the expensive and inflexible installation of sensors or magnets into factory floors for guidance.  Continue reading Mobile Industrial Robots launches new MiR200 logistics robot

Seegrid expands Supervisor API to provide interoperability across automation systems

seegrid vgv

Seegrid, a provider of flexible automated materials handling solutions, has expanded its Supervisor application programming interface to offer more advanced, connected solutions for customers.

Seegrid says the new API delivers on the promise of automation beyond materials movement, providing real-time interoperability to improve facility operations.

Interconnectedness is critical for automation systems, and Supervisor’s API addresses that growing demand, says Seegrid.  Continue reading Seegrid expands Supervisor API to provide interoperability across automation systems

Carton recycling robot 50 per cent more productive, claim researchers

carton recycling robot

Project uses artificial intelligence to identify, grab, and separate food and beverage cartons

The Carton Council of North America says that it has been conducting a pilot program that uses artificial intelligence to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of carton recycling.

Its research concluded that the system was 50 per cent more productive.

Through a collaboration led by the Carton Council with two Denver-based companies, AMP Robotics and Alpine Waste & Recycling, a robotic system has learned to identify the wide variety of food and beverage cartons in order to grab and separate them from the recycling stream.

The AMP Cortex, nicknamed “Clarke” after the sci-fi author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke, has spider-like arms with specially designed grippers to pick up and separate cartons at a materials recovery facility.

Clarke was installed in late 2016 and, through fine-tuning and adjustments, has achieved a pickup rate of 60 cartons per minute. This is a considerable increase from the human average of 40 picks per minute.  Continue reading Carton recycling robot 50 per cent more productive, claim researchers

KernPack signs exclusive distribution deal with robotics experts Skilled Group

kernpack industrial robot small

Signs exclusive distribution deal with robotics and laser guided vehicle specialist Skilled Group

KernPack, a distributor of specialist packaging machinery and solutions, has signed an exclusive UK and Ireland distribution deal with Skilled Group, enabling it to sell the company’s complete range of robotic palletising systems and automatic guided vehicles.

Part of KernPack’s strategy to widen its capabilities, by adding end-of-line warehouse automation to its packaging and mailing solutions, the deal also takes the company into the warehouse and logistics market.

Designed for automated warehousing and truck loading, Skilled Group’s products are already used around the world by Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Nestlè, Kraft, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson in installations costing up to €10m.

The company’s wide range of robotic equipment includes articulated robotic arms, gantry and SCARA robots for the automatic palletising of products or pallet handling and automatic guided vehicles, or AGVs, for any situation where a traditional forklift truck is used.  Continue reading KernPack signs exclusive distribution deal with robotics experts Skilled Group

UPS completes testing of drone delivery system developed by Workhorse

UPS says it has successfully tested a drone that launches from the top of a UPS package car, autonomously delivers a package to a home and then returns to the vehicle while the delivery driver continues along the route to make a separate delivery.

UPS conducted the test on Monday in Tampa, Florida with Workhorse Group, an Ohio-based battery-electric truck and drone developer. Workhorse built the drone and the electric UPS package car used in the test.

Mark Wallace, senior vice-president of global engineering and sustainability at UPS, says: “This test is different than anything we’ve done with drones so far. It has implications for future deliveries, especially in rural locations where our package cars often have to travel kilometres to make a single delivery.

“Imagine a triangular delivery route where the stops are kilometres apart by road. Sending a drone from a package car to make just one of those deliveries can reduce costly kilometres driven. This is a big step toward bolstering efficiency in our network and reducing our emissions at the same time.” Continue reading UPS completes testing of drone delivery system developed by Workhorse

MiR reports 500 per cent growth in sales of logistics robots

mir hook robot

Mobile Industrial Robots, a developer and manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots, claims it has seen “an astounding 500 percent growth in sales” in 2016, with over 200 MiR100 robots and accessories installed in more than 30 countries.

The company says it has an “ambitious” plan, and has recently expanded its global presence, establishing regional offices in New York and Shanghai.

With substantial increases in hiring in 2016, MiR also tripled the size of its Denmark headquarters, relocating to a new location that will support its ongoing expansion.

In 2017, the front-runner expects to further consolidate its leadership position with a new product that will be launched in Chicago on April 3, 2017 at Automate, North America’s largest automation trade show. Continue reading MiR reports 500 per cent growth in sales of logistics robots

uShip raises $25 million to fund logistics automation plan

uship

uShip, the online shipping marketplace and freight automation software provider, has closed a $25 million Series D round led by DB Schenker, one of the world’s largest logistics companies and an existing uShip partner.

DB Schenker’s funding comes on the heels of unprecedented investment in logistics and supply chain technology.

Since 2015, top pure-play logistics corporations have made 26 investments and/or acquisitions – totalling 13 each year – while logistics tech startups were on pace to raise $5 billion through over 300 deals in 2016, according to CB Insights.  Continue reading uShip raises $25 million to fund logistics automation plan

Audi obsessively improving its logistics robot

audi ray robot

Audi is continuously obsessing about how to improve its Ray autonomous logistics robot, which is used to lift and move cars, and park them in specified places. 

The company says the Ray driverless transport system is “continuously being developed further – their weather resistance, for example” and in other ways.

Developed in partnership with Serva Transport Systems, Audi currently has a total of 18 of the parking robots.  Continue reading Audi obsessively improving its logistics robot

ZF unveils AI driving system which could be used for forklift trucks, while Toyota adopts the fuel cell

toyota fuel cell forklift truck

ZF teams up with Nvidia on artificial intelligence system for autonomous cars, trucks and industrial applications

ZF says its ProAI system for automated driving is built on high-performance Nvidia Drive PX 2 AI computing platform, and will enable vehicles to “see, think, and act”. 

ZF is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers and a global leader in active and passive safety technology, and has been working with Nvidia to develop artificial intelligence systems for the transportation industry for some time.

The two companies are looking at various sectors, including:

  • automated and autonomous driving systems for passenger cars;
  • commercial trucks; and
  • industrial applications.

The ZF ProAI for highway automated driving is ZF’s first system developed using Nvidia AI technology.  Continue reading ZF unveils AI driving system which could be used for forklift trucks, while Toyota adopts the fuel cell