Inbound Logistics | January 2024

PREDICTION Humanoid robots will likely take on one job in warehouses over the next several years. While humanoid robots are impressive, they

may not yet fulfill the needs of a warehouse environment, which is typically much more dynamic and unpredictable than the controlled settings in which the humanoid robots are performing their stunts on viral videos. As AI and robotic technologies advance over the next several years, it is possible humanoid robots may serve a specific purpose within the warehouse. One potential use case is mobile carton picking, which has been notoriously dicult to automate. –Brian Gaunt, VP, Accelerated Digitalization, DHL Supply Chain

> Boston Dynamics Spot and Stretch: Boston Dynamics’ Spot can operate without intervention— autonomously charging, replanning around new obstacles, and self-righting if it falls. With 360° perception, Spot o ers more than 30 pounds of payload capacity and provides a sensing platform so organizations can glean insights into operations. Stretch (pictured below) is a mobile autonomous robot that performs package handling tasks. It can handle packages of various sizes weighing up to 50 pounds and can work continuously for up to 16 hours. The robot unloads floor-loaded trucks and containers. CEVA Logistics tapped Stretch and Spot robots to serve its customers at its new site, a 135,000-square- foot transload facility near the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles. While Stretch robots unload hundreds of boxes per hour at the facility, Spot robots (pictured above) patrol the site and ensure security. Meanwhile, supply chain and ecommerce service provider Arvato deployed Stretch robots (below) at its Louisville, Kentucky, logistics site, and has plans to expand their use at its global logistics centers.

Here Come the Humanoids

Amazon began testing a bipedal robot called Digit in fall 2023. Made by Agility Robotics, a startup firm that is funded by Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund, Digit is helping Amazon employees consolidate and recycle empty totes once inventory has been picked out of them. Agility plans to mass-produce Digit robots at a facility in Salem, Oregon, aiming to produce more than 10,000 robots annually. Other humanoids are in development. Figure AI and Boston Dynamics are testing humanoid robots in distribution centers. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Optimus Robot can sort objects autonomously as it can self-calibrate its arms and legs. Tech startup Apptronik is expected to launch humanoid robot Apollo in late 2024. Videos of the humanoid robot, which was built in partnership with NASA, show it case picking, palletizing, and unloading trailers.

182 Inbound Logistics • January 2024

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