A cargo-handling robot that is a taste of things to come in the sector has been put through its paces at Munich Airport.
EvoBOT is the creation of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, and has been developed within the framework of the Digital Testbed Air Cargo (DTAC) program funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV).
“Airfreight is currently undergoing a profound transformation,” Fraunhofer IML said today in a release. “Despite a shortage of skilled workers, high throughput rates have to be managed, while digitalization is advancing at an ever-faster pace. The evoBOT provides an initial response to this development.”
The robot keeps itself balanced with two wheels and gripper arms, the company said, and it mastered a first practical test in the cargo terminal and on the apron of Munich Airport (MUC).
MUC Chief Executive Jost Lammers said in a release expansion of the cargo and logistics sector are essential to the airport’s strategy.
“We welcome every initiative to optimize and digitalize handling processes,” Lammers said. “The evoBOT will facilitate the day-to-day work of our employees in the cargo area and make the workplace more attractive.”
The robot, characterized by its arms and the adaptive load pickup made possible by them, can take on tasks including handling hazardous goods, transporting parcels for longer recurring distances, relieving employees during lifting and overhead work, procuring materials and providing support during the loading and unloading of aircraft, the release noted.
Despite its load capacity, the evoBOT is “exceptionally agile” and can reach a maximum speed of 60 km/h and transport a load of up to 100 kg. It can operate either alone or with others, indoors or outdoors. Its low carbon footprint also contributes to its diverse use, Fraunhofer MIL added.
“Our evoBOT is the beginning of a new population of autonomous vehicles and robots,” Fraunhofer IML Managing Director Michael ten Hompel said in the release. “With its arms and the fact that it moves on two wheels, it represents a step on the path to the humanoid future of robotics.”