Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DB Schenker trials autonomous warehouse robots

Steve Rogerson
October 30, 2019

German logistics service provider DB Schenker has introduced autonomous robots made by Gideon Brothers at its location in Leipzig. DB Schenker is hoping to introduce flexibility for automating logistics processes in existing warehouses.
The robots are said to allow productivity gains without modifying facilities.
“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,” said Xavier Garijo, member of the board at Schenker. “Delivering automation possibilities for logistics and warehouse operations is a foundation for building the next generation supply chain."
Croatia-based Gideon Brothers’ autonomous logistics robot is equipped with a visual perception-based robot autonomy system, which combines deep learning with stereoscopic cameras to create robot vision. With this AI-powered visual perception, it is designed to navigate safely around employees and equipment as well as other moving machines. Each robot can move an 800kg load and uses a hot-swappable battery system, reducing downtime for recharging.
The robots are being piloted in DB Schenker's Leipzig warehouse to automate tasks associated with regular order fulfilment, 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 more pick-up and drop-off points. The flexibility of the system is showcased by the fact that both the expansion and the on-going fine-tuning has been undertaken by DB Schenker staff. In the first month of the pilot, a typical distance covered by a robot surpassed 26km per week. The results of the pilot project will be evaluated in detail after completion.
“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,” said Matija Kopić, CEO of Gideon Brothers. “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.”