DPD Germany tests swarm robots for depot use

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Autonomous vehicles that swarm across the hall floor at up to ten metres per second and deposit parcels with pinpoint accuracy have been tested at DPD’s Depot 250 in Cologne-Porz. For a period of two weeks so-called LoadRunners were tested there for their practical suitability under almost realistic conditions. These autonomous transport vehicles have been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flows and Logistics. The KION Group would like to bring the autonomous swarm robot to market maturity. In the practical test, DPD Germany is acting as an industrial partner in this exciting project.

The LoadRunners are not only fast and manoeuvrable, they also set new benchmarks in the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Although they move independently of each other in the logistics space, they still coordinate their transport routes with one another and solve transport tasks cooperatively if necessary. On its own the individual LoadRunner can transport and sort packages in the weight range from 200g to 31.5kg and with a maximum edge length of 60 cm. This currently corresponds to around 60-65% of DPD’s parcel volumes. However, if a LoadRunner ever needs the help of its “colleagues,” several vehicles can link up quickly and easily and work as a team to transport bulky parcels to the desired destination in the depot.

“We are very happy that we have been able to accompany the first sorting trial in Cologne-Porz as an industry partner. And of course there are already scenarios on how we can scale the LoadRunner model across Germany. But to be honest, we are still at a very early stage. For this reason evaluating all the data and key figures we have obtained is our priority for the time being,” says Lukas Bauer, Senior Group Manager Corporate Real Estate & Technology at DPD Germany.

Source: DPD