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National post to pilot Prime Vision’s Autonomous Sorting solution

Dutch automation specialist Prime Vision has unveiled plans to launch a second pilot project for its award-winning Autonomous Sorting solution, commencing in mid-2018. Prime Vision demonstrated the concept to a live audience in July 2017, and now intends to develop the concept further with a new postal partner.

Autonomous Sorting introduces the idea of self-organizing logistics by utilizing the latest robotic technology to sort parcels or roll containers autonomously. These robots, called Rovers, enable delivery firms to turn an empty warehouse into a fully operational sorting center in less than a day.

Other than the Rovers themselves, little other equipment is needed to create the pop-up sorting centers. Collision evasion is in-built, enabling the Rovers to work together intelligently, like worker bees. It also allows them to operate safely alongside human co-workers if required. Prime Vision developed swarming algorithms that determine the actions of these ‘bees’ enabling them to identify, assess, sort, and physically transport items to their dispatch location.

Bernd van Dijk, Prime Vision’s innovation director, said, “We’re delighted by the market response and the positivity of our partners in collaborating to perfect this solution. As well as having a fully working solution by mid-2018, we intend to demonstrate further enhanced capabilities over the coming year. These include a fully autonomous robotic arm that can pick up and place parcels.

“We have also designed the system components as 3D printable designs. This facilitates the fast production of prototypes, design adjustments and serviceable parts, helping to future-proof the Autonomous Sorting solution,” added van Dijk.

The nature of the Autonomous Sorting system means that operations can be scaled up or down easily, and that Rovers can be dispatched to other locations depending on requirements. Whether seasonal demand, a temporary warehouse, or an excessive workload, Autonomous Sorting can be quickly deployed to bring a rapid, flexible solution to any short-term problem. Once in place, the solution can run according to any specified timetable and has the ability to process up to 15,000 parcels per hour.

In a purely commercial context, Autonomous Sorting is highly competitive; it lowers capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX), ensuring that there are no barriers to adoption by operators looking to integrate a more scalable and flexible sorting strategy. Crucially, Rovers can rapidly and accurately perform sorting at a lower cost (per sorted unit) than current industry standards.

“Since the proof of concept, we have already adapted the design of the Rovers,” said van Dijk. “Height has been increased to meet regulations and computing power has been increased to facilitate higher quality algorithms and sensors. We also achieved further autonomy by decentralizing collision avoidance, path planning and navigation.

“We want postal and logistics companies to consider Autonomous Sorting as a one-stop solution, whether setting up a new sorting center or automating an existing one. This system has to be reliable enough to be operative 24/7 in one location but robust enough to be redeployed at any time.”

January 16, 2018

Written by Daniel Symonds


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