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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Logistics

Robotics firm Mujin unveils automated unloader at ProMat

Automation solutions provider Mujin has unveiled its latest technology, TruckBot, an automated trailer and container unloader.

Reaching up to 52 feet while handling boxes weighing up to 50 pounds, TruckBot fastens onto extendable conveyors, frequently seen in modern warehouses and docks, and uses suction cup grippers to grab the sides of boxes and place them on the conveyor belt to be transferred to its QuickBot Depalletizer robotics arm for sorting. TruckBot made its debut on Monday at manufacturing and supply chain conference ProMat in Chicago.

Once the boxes have been sorted, QuickBot places them onto company floor robots to be moved to their final destination in the warehouse.

According to the company, TruckBot can unload up to 1,000 cases per hour.

Mujin’s TruckBot technology. (Video: Mujin – Youtube.com)

While showcasing TruckBot on the conference floor, Mujin Director of Sales Josh Cloer told FreightWaves the new robotics solution’s beta testing took place in an import environment, picking and palletizing products from containers to be put in inventory storage without the use of any humans.

The Controller

The heart of Mujin’s technology is the tool that powers its robotics technology — the Mujin Controller. 

The Controller is the heart of Mujin’s technology. (Photo: Mujin)

According to the company, the robot Controller leverages 3D vision systems, motion planning and gripping systems data to learn processes without programming.

Using machine intelligence, Mujin models the warehouse environment, including the communication between the robotics technology and its targeted objects (boxes, pallets, etc.). This way the robot learns and moves instinctively without human programming for each decision it wants to make.

The machine intelligence approach makes it very simple for Mujin to partner with new customers. Once the Controller has been modeled and calibrated to its new warehouse, customers have achieved a return on investment in under two years with 99% reliability from the robotics solution, often deployed in less than a day, according to the company.

Mujin’s Asian roots

You may not be too familiar with Mujin’s technology in the U.S. because the company has only been operating in North America since September 2021. 

Mujin moved its expanded engineering and sales divisions as well as co-founder and CEO Ross Diankov from its headquarters in Tokyo to a large warehousing facility in Sandy Springs, Georgia, to establish its brand internationally at that time.

“As some of the largest companies in Asia have experienced, Mujin will bring a new wave of robotics technology to the U.S. market, with robots no longer needing to be taught how to move explicitly. Instead, the robots will already ‘know’ what they need through what we call ‘machine intelligence,’ which enables more capability and efficiency for robot picking applications that were previously impractical or difficult to deploy,” Diankov told the Robot Report at the time of the move.

Servicing Asia since 2015, Mujin is best known in the region for its work with JD.Com Inc., the largest e-commerce company in China.

Related: JD.com grows revenue 31%, may avoid listing logistics unit

In 2018, this partnership opened the world’s first fully automated warehouse. The building spans about 430,500 square feet in Shanghai and at the time was equipped with 20 industrial Mujin robots for picking and packing, handling about 200,000 packages a day. The facility did have five humans on hand to manage and maintain the robots, not to perform warehousing work.

With the company’s expansion into the U.S., Cloer said North American shippers will benefit from the solutions the company has perfected overseas.

“We are pioneering products including the brain behind the scenes — the Controller — and using advanced perception combined with the ability to build a digital twin environment that controls the robots. That is what is creating the ability for us to build all of these cool applications,” he said. “We have been here over a decade and have deployed thousands of systems using this technology. We are bringing this level of experience with robotics that is just unmatched in this market.”

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The post Robotics firm Mujin unveils automated unloader at ProMat appeared first on FreightWaves.

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