Puma to create world’s first intelligent warehouse

Multinational manufacturer of athletic and casual footwear, PUMA, has launched a pilot project to create what it describes as the world's first intelligent and decision-making warehouse.

Intelligent Warehouse - TORU was built as a perception-controlled robot, which enables the system to learn on the spot independently - image courtesy of ITG
TORU was built as a perception-controlled robot, which enables the system to learn on the spot independently – image courtesy of ITG

PUMA has worked with mobile robotics firm, Magazino; software provider, Gigaton, and logistics specialist, ITG to test a new intelligent warehouse robot, dubbed ‘TORU’, at its logistic centre in Schwaig, Germany.

Intended to revolutionise the warehouse future for manufacturers and logistics companies, TORUS can reportedly pick up individual objects, as opposed to standardised loading units like trays or boxes. Its adaptive picker arms can grasp different cube-shaped objects – from a small paperback book or shoe box or a heavy dictionary, placing the grasped object on its shelf or bringing it directly to the shipping station.

One of the goals of this pilot project is to test TORU in the field, to prove its stability and consistency in daily use, and the maturity of the technology.

The hardware is equipped with conveyor technology and while the hardware is based on long-known elements, which have proved to be successful in similar warehouse environments in the past, the software which connects the technology and the sensors can be considered more innovative, according to software developer, Gigaton.

TORU was built as a perception-controlled robot, which can perceive and interpret its environment and make decisions on that basis, thanks to the use of cameras, computer vision, numerous sensors, and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s been stated that this not only allows permanent adjustments to the warehouse topology and the use of TORU in work environments alongside people, but also enables the system to learn independently.

Data about its environment is continuously collected by TORU’s sensors, which helps ITG to further develop the cooperation between man and machine. For example, if TORU gets too close to a human, it reduces its speed and then stops its movements. The system has reportedly been inspected by the German employers’ liability insurance association to guarantee workplace safety.

TORU’s primary benefit, ITG noted, is that it can be used outside of regular working hours. It doesn’t even need warehouse lighting to be on, as it has integrated headlights and is able to light its work environment itself. Also, the robot can be deployed in other departments without additional expense, just by automatically familiarising itself with the new working environment.

Live operation with TORU is expected to start in September, once the robot technology is linked with the LogoS external warehouse management system from Gigaton, and the first positive tests and a brief familiarisation period are completed.

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