The robot is not heavy: how mail logistics becomes smarter than
The growth of popularity of online stores has changed the field of postal logistics. In many ways, the customer's life has become better: the delivery time for packages has decreased, it has become possible to track the status of the order and choose options that are convenient for them. Have you ever thought about how mail companies process our orders? We decided to tell you about new technologies and concepts that are used in logistics centers in Russia and abroad.
is notable abroad. DHL , which invests significant investments for the organization of express deliveries. This year the next distribution center opened at the airport Brussels . According to the company's representatives, the use of the most advanced transport and logistics technologies will almost fourfold increase the capacity of the hub and allow sending up to 4?000 freight per hour.
Warehouse logistics: robots found the use of
Unlike sorting centers, warehouse operators set themselves other tasks: to effectively use the space for storing parcels, gently move different types of cargo through the center, group them for delivery.
In general, warehouse logistics is an extremely time-consuming process both physically and intellectually. Despite all the appropriateness of the robotization of logistics, until recently, technology has not allowed to make robots that in no way inferior to people. Only the appearance of capacious and compact batteries, fast wireless communication, advanced optical sensors, machine learning, artificial intelligence and neural networks could give impetus to the development of robots of all types.
Three years ago, spread lightly across the Internet. video , filmed in one of the storage centers Amazon. On it an army of small orange robots gracefully moved around the shop racks with goods. Dozens and hundreds of small "bugs" easily transported heavy items on themselves, avoiding collisions with dexterity, which will envy motorists.
Since 200? DHL has been using a proprietary robot to unload mail items from containers, and Wynright offers like a robot to everyone.
In some cases, the goods are delivered in a container not in separate units, but in pallets. Then another mechanism may come into play - for example, a robot from the Russian company Ronavi, capable of transporting up to one and a half tons of cargo on europallets, moving along a given path and changing it in the event of unexpected obstacles. In the presence of a roomy elevator, the robot Ronavi can deliver its burden to another floor of the warehouse.
Source: Ronavi Robotics
What can robots do?
It depends on whether we are talking about individual robots or about a complex solution-a single system that serves all stages of warehouse operations. This is, for example, the company Swisslog, which offers a complete solution CarryPick, consisting of robots, transporters, configurable shelving and software SynQ. When the warehouse is deployed on the basis of CarryPick, the customer receives shelves, the configuration of which is easy to change in accordance with what goods will be stored on them.
Robots Swisslog KMP600 carry the shelves to operators, guided by QR-codes on the floor. The software recommends the best place to store a particular item of goods, analyzing the contents of all the shelves on all racks.
Successfully automating the transportation of shelving with goods, many companies have faced the inability to get specific items from the shelves by robots. Artificial intelligence certainly lost to people in the accuracy, care and speed of "getting" items from the shelves. To solve this problem, specifically for Amazon Robotics Toshiba has designed a six-axis robot that is able to independently determine the best way to grab the load and without any problems transfer over the most complex trajectories loads of up to 20 kg.
Six-axis robot Toshiba
If the objects are not neat rectangular boxes, but a hodgepodge of packages of different sizes and weighing up to 2 kg, then the SCARA robot Toshiba enters the case. He takes out of the capacity chaotically sketched objects with the help of three suckers.
Another Toshiba robot manipulator does not have a vacuum gripper, but a clamping mechanism that paired with the AI and a camera that recognizes the shape and materials of objects, can gently take and rearrange everything that fits into the dimensions of 50x30x20 cm and weighs no more than 7 kg.
Toshiba Picking Robot. Full video review
Literally in the last year, mobile robots-manipulators have appeared on the market, able to get objects of various shapes from the shelves. Company IAM Robotics The robot Swift, which is a complex complex of mechanized "hands" with a sucker and a mobile platform with a battery. Swift operates with its limbs at the speed of a person, that is, very quickly, and can pick up from the shelves objects weighing up to 7 kg. The Swift cargo platform can hold up to 25 kg, the battery lasts for 10 hours, and its replacement takes 30 seconds. However, with all the technologicality of Swift, the robot can not replace the sorters at Amazon warehouses - the retailer's employees process orders with incredible speed and accuracy, while even Swift is unavailable.
Source: Youtube, IAM Robotics
And what can not?
The problem of the "last mile" (the last stage of delivery to the addressee /buyer) is practically not solved. At least in Russia, where the automation of all logistics, unfortunately, according to cursory estimates of experts, lags behind the American for 10 years and 7-8 years from the European.
Attempts to replace couriers with robot deliverers have been underway for several years, but the launch of the same drones often represents only a marketing action, not a real change in logistics. Amazon is ready to use flying drones to deliver goods to the buyer, street lamps with charging stations for robots were even created, but in 2016 the company's project was rejected by the US Federal Aviation Administration by prohibiting Amazon from using drones for delivery.
However, this spring service UberEats allowed to use drones for food delivery in American San Diego. Also to commercial use of drones were admitted Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Uber, Airbus, FedEx and other companies.
But the initiative Amazon again remained unrealized, and the community tends to the version that it's not the problems of the project itself, but the strained relations between Amazon and the US authorities. Despite the elegant implementation of the delivery of drones, the Amazon Prime Air fleet still consists of cargo planes, not robots.
But not everything is so sad with the "last mile", as you might think. In fact, robots are already used to deliver mail items to recipients. This is how the Swiss Post (Swiss Post), which purchased
? arrives. robots
Estonian company Starship Technologies. The six-wheeled rover holds most of the postal items, and its autonomy is enough for delivery within a 30-minute radius.
At the stage of "combat" testing rovers are partially controlled by operators monitoring their movement through cameras installed on the robot. But in the future the devices will compile their detailed city map with all the obstacles not indicated on the usual maps, so that later they can move completely autonomously. Starship employees say that during the tests, the rovers have covered a distance of about ?000 kilometers, and no incidents have occurred with them all the time.
Not too far is the day when the delivery from the online store on the day of the order will not be an exclusive service, but a common practice. And logistics robots help make this day closer.
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