Fresh from winning two recent industry innovation awards for the Autonomous Sorting solution, Prime Vision’s visionary new system has sent shockwaves through the industry, compelling Postal and Parcel to assess both their current set-ups and future plans. After a successful proof-of-concept demonstration to an invited audience proved the concept feasible, Prime Vision now has a pilot with a second postal partner commencing mid 2018.
Autonomous Sorting introduces the idea of self-organising logistics by utilising the latest robotic technology to sort parcels or roll containers autonomously. These robots – called Rovers – combined with Prime Visions technical and industry know-how, enable parcel and logistics companies to turn an empty warehouse into a fully operational Sorting Centre in less than a day.
Manned only by Rovers, these pop-up Sorting Centre’s need hardly any further equipment and the Rovers are safe to operate alongside human co-workers. While they are autonomous, Collision Evasion is inbuilt, allowing the Rovers to intelligently work together when handing larger parcels. The Rovers are created to behave similarly to worker bees. 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.
Leading the development team is Prime Vision Innovation Director, Bernd van Dijk. “We are delighted by the market response and the positivity of our clients and partners in collaborating to perfect this solution. As well as having a fully working solution by mid-2018, we intend to demonstrate further enhanced capability over the year. These include a fully autonomous robotic arm that can perform pick-up and placement of parcels”.
“Really exciting is that we are making the system components 3D printable designs. This allows for fast prototyping, design adjustments and serviceable parts, helping future-proof Autonomous Sorting with both ongoing innovation and future serviceability”.
The very nature and ease-of-use of the Autonomous Sorting system mean operations can be scaled up or down, and Rovers 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, but is robust enough to be the full-time backbone of most sorting centres. Once in place, the solution can run specific hours or 24/7 with the capability to operate a throughput initially up to 15,000 parcels per hour.
In a purely commercial context, Autonomous Sorting is highly competitive; it lowers CAPEX and OPEX significantly 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.
Bernd believes the firm but flexible foundation is key to the success of the solution. He explains, “In fundamental terms, we are focusing development on the Rovers all-around technical stability, capability and physical robustness.”
“Technically, since the proof of concept, we have already adapted the design of the Rovers. Height has been increased to meet Working Conditions regulations. Computing power has been increased to allow for higher quality algorithms and sensors. Also, we achieved further autonomy by de-centralising collision avoidance, path planning and navigation.”
“We want Postal and Logistics companies to consider Autonomous Sorting as the one-stop solution whether setting up a new sorting centre or automating an existing one. This system has to reliable enough to operative 24/7 in one location but robust enough to be re-deployed at any time. “