Robotic warehouse workers for beverage logistics: Luka-Beverage
Hauling drinks crates here, there and everywhere is evidently going to take a physical toll and is far from an ergonomic task – especially when it forms part of someone’s daily work. With an estimated 530 million drinks crates in circulation around Europe, there are plenty of ways we can help here. This is why the project partners of “Luka- Beverage” are working on a service robot to help with this task. However, the dynamic, narrow and unstructured environments like those found in beverage warehouses pose a challenge when finding an automated solution. Moreover, service robots have so far only been able to lift weights of up to 20 kg on rare occasions.
Therefore, the aim of the project is to develop a suitable gripping system for the mobile platform “Luka”, which was developed by the company Mojin Robotics and already exists as a prototype. Using AI processes for object localization, the robot knows exactly where the crates and bottles are located, even in such a challenging environment. With this knowledge, it is able to plan how to grip these objects. In addition, a 3D navigation system is created, thanks to which the robot can find its way around autonomously and also partially creates a 3D map of the free workspace. As a result, the robot and its arm can move around in a collision-free manner, even without a sensor to alert it to potential obstacles. The aim of the project is, by the end of this year, to develop the prototype so that it uses sensor-guiding technology in order to carry out palletizing and depalletizing tasks in addition to being able to stack crates of drinks and handle empty bottles. In so doing, this would illustrate the technical and economic viability of automated solutions such as “Luka”.