Mhlnews 5089 Drones

Warehouse Drones: Infatuation or Infestation?

Jan. 27, 2014
Palletizing drones could be flying into our warehouses in the near future. Should we be afraid?

We’ve shown you a lot of material handling mayhem courtesy of Youtube recently, and while it may be entertaining to see other companies in worse shape than you, it can also fool you into thinking “hey, we’re not so bad after all.” That kind of thinking can give decision-makers license not to make decisions when improvements are needed.

With that in mind I thought I’d share with you a little Youtube snippet that offers inspiration to do something more with your dreams than just enjoy the sleep that comes with them. In a recent blog I told you that manufacturers will be using 2014 to focus more on R&D and product line expansion. I tied this to developments in the material handling industry where researchers are looking at how to improve testing of automated guided vehicle (AGV) capabilities. This research is expected to inspire further innovation among AGV developers and users—maybe even highlight break-through capabilities.

Well, the post I just saw gives life to a dream of one technology developer who sees potential for guided vehicles to take flight. The vehicles I’m talking about are drones, and while the drones we’ve been talking about lately are a take-off on Jeff Bezos’ vision of delivery drones taking to the skies, a company called Qimarox of the Netherlands is playing with the idea of drones that build pallet loads. Here’s how they describe their vision:

“With little superstructure or extensive hardware to install, a drone-based palletizing solution could be deployed rapidly, and should be capable of a relatively high sustained load throughput. Although the current limitation on their usefulness is clearly the weight of the carried load, this is not seen as insurmountable in the medium term. Interest from companies like Amazon will continue to drive battery and control development.”

This vision was given life with the help of animation software but could it make its way in reality to the next big material handling exhibition? Take a look at the video below and tell me if this dream is more pipe science than popular science. What are the constraints that could keep drones out of DC air space? Limited weight-carrying capacity? Limited air space capacity? Possible collisions with floor-based co-workers? Or maybe you see this as ready for prime time with a few tweaks. What would those tweaks be?

If human drones in your warehouse have been keeping you down, now’s your chance to let your imagination take flight. (Click here to view)

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