July 22, 2024

Fraunhofer’s High-Speed Logistics Robots Poised to Outshine Humanoids

In the realm of robotics, humanoids have been stealing the limelight as the Next Big Thing. However, their capabilities may be overshadowed by the remarkable performance of Fraunhofer’s self-balancing evoBOT and its new autonomous O³dyn pallet jack. These high-speed logistics robots are revolutionizing the field of warehousing and logistics.

While humanoids will eventually learn to perform a variety of tasks and replace human labor across different working environments, their design is limited by the human body shape. This poses a challenge, especially in flat-floored warehouses and factories. Recognizing this limitation, Boston Dynamics and Fraunhofer Institute have focused on developing robots that excel in logistics operations.

Compared to a humanoid that might walk at a speed of 5-6 km/h and carry around 20 kg of payload, the evoBOT can already travel at a remarkable speed of up to 60 km/h on extendable legs. It is capable of lifting up to 65 kg in its self-locking lifting arms, making it more than three times as efficient as a humanoid, performing tasks at up to 10 times the speed. Additionally, it can carry up to 100 kg if loaded by someone else, and its rotating, circular grippers enable it to lift objects straight up without turning them upside down, allowing access to higher shelves.

With a weight of approximately 40 kg, the evoBOT is compact, lightweight, and runs efficiently for up to 8 hours on a battery charge. It can comfortably handle slopes of up to a 45-degree angle, even on uneven ground. The robot’s agility and speed resemble a cross between the TARS robot from Interstellar and a Segway. In the event of a fall, the evoBOT can quickly and easily regain its balance.

Recently, the evoBOT underwent successful testing at Munich Airport, showcasing its speed and efficiency in a spacious environment. In addition to its practicality, the robot’s adorable appearance makes it an appealing addition to the logistics industry.

Another impressive creation by Fraunhofer is the O³dyn robot, an autonomous and powerful pallet jack equipped with omni-directional Mecanum wheels and air suspension. This robot can operate both indoors and outdoors, reaching speeds of up to 36 km/h. It utilizes LiDAR, GPS, and 3D camera systems to navigate and perceive its surroundings. The O³dyn robot carefully positions itself around a pallet using its omnidirectional wheels and strong suspension to lift it from both sides. With its ability to move in any direction while facing any direction, it displays exceptional agility in tight spaces.

Currently in prototype form with an aluminum frame, the O³dyn robot has a load capacity rating of 350 kg. However, it can easily be upgraded to handle up to 1,300 kg without requiring motor or drive system upgrades once it enters production.

Though the O³dyn system is still improving its ability to handle sudden obstacles in its path, Fraunhofer has equipped the robot with an emergency brake system. This system releases the air from the suspension and engages friction brake plates under the frame, bringing the robot to an immediate stop. This safety measure ensures the protection of any unsecured cargo on top of the stack.

Fraunhofer’s high-speed logistics robots, evoBOT and O³dyn, are proving to be game-changers in the field of warehousing and logistics. By outperforming humanoids in speed, efficiency, and maneuverability, these robots are set to revolutionize the industry and pave the way for future advancements in autonomous robotics.

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  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it