Honeywell has launched a new automated tool for distribution centers that does not require an operator or modifications for use inside different-sized trailers or shipping containers.
Developed by Honeywell Intelligrated, part of Fortune 100 technology giant Honeywell, the new smart robotics offering uses AI to operate fully autonomously inside of a trailer, with the company claiming it would reduce both manual effort and damage to packages.
Matt Wicks, vice-president of product development at Honeywell Intelligrated, said: "For distribution center workers, unloading packages is labor-intensive, physically demanding and injury-prone work that is often subject to extreme temperatures.
"With our robotic unloader, we are using advanced machine learning (ML) to allow workers to remove themselves from the extreme environment and to oversee multiple unloading machines, increasing productivity and improving safety."
The robotic unloader (pictured above) drives into a truck trailer and shipping container at a distribution center, using machine vision to identify packages of all shapes and sizes. It features patented gentle mechanisms that aim to minimize package damage and utilizes a robotic arm with small suction cups that conform to a package's shape that extract a package from a stack. Once packages have been selected, a conveyor sweeps the packages up and moves them out of the trailer or container.
Honeywell Intelligrated has been working with Carnegie Mellon University to deploy advanced ML to expand the robotic capabilities with improved 3D vision, perception, processing power and gripping, Wicks explained.
"In real-world applications, we are unloading a rate of up to 1,500 cases per hour and helping companies maximize throughput safely and efficiently," he added.