DPD Germany tests swarm robots

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At its Depot 250 in Cologne-Porz in Germany, DPD Germany has begun a two-week testing period for autonomous transportation vehicles, called LoadRunners, to assess their intralogistics applications.

The driverless vehicles swarm across the floor at speeds up to 10m/s and have been designed to be faster and more maneuverable for intralogistics spaces. The AI-driven robots coordinate their transportation routes with one another and solve transportation tasks cooperatively while moving independently of each other in the logistics space.

One individual LoadRunner can transport and sort packages in the weight range from 200g -31.5kg and with a maximum edge length of 60cm. 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.

These autonomous transportation vehicles have been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flows and Logistics and, together with the institute, the materials handling manufacturer Kion Group wants to bring the autonomous swarm robot to market maturity. In the practical test, DPD Germany is acting as an industrial partner in the project.

Lukas Bauer, senior group manager of corporate real estate and technology at DPD Germany, said, “The high speed and swarm intelligence of the LoadRunners are absolutely fascinating and therefore a real game changer for us. We are very happy that we have been able to accompany the first sorting trial in Cologne-Porz as an industry partner. 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.”

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