With a mission to “automate the world’s dullest, dirtiest, and deadliest jobs,” Clearpath Robotics, based in Kitchener, Ontario, wants to bring its automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to the warehouse.
“Our technology is fundamentally different from the one Amazon uses,” Simon Drexler, Clearpath’s director of indoor industrial systems told Marty Jerome, of Entrepreneur magazine. “Our robots operate in collaboration with what human beings are already doing, meaning you can implement them within operations in facilities that already exist.”
Drexler told Jerome that his company can get a fleet of robots up and running in a matter of days.
One difference between Amazon’s robots and Clearpath’s is that the latter’s intelligent AGV’s can move through the warehouse and laser-scan and store the bar codes. Amazon’s robots are only able to read the bar codes.
The company moved to warehouse automation (from its other applications, mostly military) after having research contracts with Microsoft (for its Xbox Kinect motion-detection game console), Honda, NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This type of warehouse automation has the potential to provide hefty cost savings. Robots could reduce fulfillment costs by 20% to 40% according to a study from Janney Capital Markets.
Clearpath intends to continue development in the market. “The long-term vision,” Drexler told Jerome “is for a manufacturing or fulfillment facility where you can literally shut the lights off because everything is automated.”