Leading global logistics provider DB Schenker has introduced Gideon Brothers autonomous logistics robots into service at its Leipzig facility.
Gideon Brothers, an AI and robotics company, developed breakthrough autonomy technology that combines deep learning and advanced vision-based perception.
The technology offers a flexible solution for automating logistics operations in existing facilities, allowing productivity gains without the need to modify facilities.
Xavier Garijo, member of the board contract logistics at DB Schenker, says: “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.”
Gideon Brothers’ autonomous logistics robot is capable of moving 800 kg and is designed to navigate safely around people and equipment as well as other moving machines.
It is equipped with a Visual Perception-based Robot Autonomy System, which combines deep learning with stereoscopic cameras to create the next generation of robot vision.
Gideon Brothers’ says its technology is as reliable for navigation as LiDAR but is – unlike LiDAR – data-rich.
Other than the revolutionary AI-powered visual perception, a critical competitive advantage is a hot-swappable battery system, allowing minimum downtime for recharging.
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.
The flexibility of the system is showcased by the fact that both the expansion and the ongoing fine-tuning was undertaken by DB Schenker staff. In the first month of the pilot, a typical distance covered by a robot surpassed 26 km per week.
Matija Kopić, CEO and co-founder of Gideon Brothers, says: “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.”
Milan Račić, chief growth officer and co-founder of Gideon Brothers, says: “LiDAR is the dial-up of the autonomy world.
“It is a very good technology but 2D LiDAR has too many real-world limitations, making it a transitional step on the road to full autonomy. 3D is great, if economics don’t matter.
“Camera vision technology is the future of mobile autonomy, particularly in busy and ever-changing logistics centers.
“Our technology is gaining clear and unequivocal validation from our customers. This validation will help us become the leading mobile robotics provider in the industry.”
Gideon Brothers recently finalized a second seed financing round, raising €2.65 million. With the latest round, the total investment in Gideon Brothers, including angel financing and the first seed round, stands at €4.83 million.
The new round of investment was led by Pentland Ventures, the direct investment division of the Pentland Group – the privately held global brand management company based in the UK whose portfolio includes Lacoste and Speedo.
Elliot Conway, Pentland Ventures, says: “Retail and consumer goods companies are experiencing an unprecedented level of change at the moment as a result of increased customer expectations and a shift to omnichannel.
“The best companies will win by transforming their supply chains into differentiators and engines for growth and efficiency.
“As a family business with a long-term view, we recognise the enormous potential that Gideon Brothers has to be instrumental in driving the positive transformation that will enable the best to get even better.”
NJF Capital and Linic Ltd were also new investors in the latest round.
Nicole Junkermann, founder of NJF, whose successful exits include Google and Salesforce, says: “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.”
Among the returning investors are Hardware Club, a community-based venture firm, and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and chairman of the UK fintech unicorn TransferWise, as well as Ivan Topčić and Luca Ascani.