Autonomy-as-a-service provider Unmanned Life is trialling its drone-based autonomous sorting solution in partnership with postal operator Swiss Post. The test will run at a distribution center near Zurich, Switzerland, until July 2018, with the results set to be unveiled in September.
The Autonomous Pop-Up Sorting Center leverages a fleet of autonomous robots that intelligently avoid obstacles and other drones to transfer unsorted packages from conveyors or trolleys to the designated output gates.
“Swiss Post has identified autonomous technology as one of the innovation areas where we want to dig in and pilot,” said Thierry Golliard, head of open innovation and venturing at Swiss Post. “In a warehouse, there are many opportunities for these new solutions to be deployed. We have chosen Unmanned Life to learn from this field by testing and piloting the technology.”
As a modular and mobile solution, the Autonomous Pop-Up Sorting Center provides the flexibility to complement or even replace existing fixed sorting systems, providing a cost-efficient tool that can be deployed anywhere, according to demand.
Kumardev Chatterjee, CEO, Unmanned Life, said, “The solution is totally portable, flexible and scalable – the number and size of rovers used can be increased and decreased at will without any new development required, the solution can be moved from one place to another such as one warehouse to another within a day, and different types of rovers can be used together.”
Unmanned Life, which developed the AI-software for the drones, previously gave a proof-of-concept demonstration in July 2017. Shortly after, the solution won the Postal Innovation Platform (PIP) award at Post-Expo 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“There are no solutions or companies that have or deploy this technology; this is the world’s first using fully autonomous rovers and autonomy-as-a-service architecture that we have developed from scratch,” added Chatterjee.
According to Chatterjee, one of the major advantages of the solution is that it can be integrated with existing IT infrastructure without requiring expensive or extensive development. Postal workers simply load and unload the parcels while the AI software and drones sort and allocate the packages.