Demand for online grocery has reached unprecedented heights due to COVID-19 as people everywhere adhere to social distancing directives, with online grocery site visits up 146 per cent from just February to March 2020. Read more
Boston Dynamics has announced the acquisition of Kinema Systems, a company that enables industrial robotic arms with deep learning technology to locate and move boxes on complex pallets.
Using a combination of vision sensors and deep learning software, Kinema Systems’ Pick technology works with commercial robotic arms to move boxes off pallets to conveyors or build stacks of boxes on pallets.
Pick enables logistics, retail, and manufacturing companies to achieve high rates of box moving with minimal set up or training for both multi-SKU and single-SKU pallets.
“Bringing the Kinema team into Boston Dynamics expands our perception and learning capabilities while the Pick product accelerates our entry into the logistics market. Beyond being a powerful tool for industrial robotic arms, Kinema technology will help our mobile manipulation robots tackle a wide variety of complex real-world tasks,” Boston Dynamics Founder and CEO Marc Raibert said.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) has released an updated load restraint guide, with a complementary guide for light vehicle operators.
The updated Load Restraint Guide 2018 provides practical advice on how to safely transport a load.
“If you’re involved in packing, loading, moving or unloading any type of vehicle, you are responsible for complying with load restraint laws,” said Paul Retter, CEO, NTC.
“Restraining your load is not complex, but it does require training and knowledge. This guide will help you to know how to restrain your load safely through practical guidance material, including diagrams, in a user-friendly style allowing you to find the information you need quickly.”
The guide includes information on understanding the characteristics of the load in order to choose a suitable vehicle, as well as equipment and restraint systems which meet the performance standards legally required by law.
“The guide is an invaluable resource to ensure you are restraining loads correctly to prevent incidents that can cause death or injury, as well as damage to your business’ reputation and finances.
“We encourage everyone who is involved in restraining loads to read the guide and keep it handy as a reference,” said Retter.
This is the first time a version focusing on light vehicles has also been available, specifically for vehicles under 4.5 tonnes.
Linfox CEO Annette Carey has revealed that the logistics group is looking to venture into e-commerce packaging, having established a fulfilment business in Sydney to package and distribute online purchases.
Linfox has started providing packaging and distribution services for smaller businesses that sell online, including two consumer technology groups.
“Our research showed that Australian businesses have been under-investing in the fulfilment part of their commerce solutions,” Carey told The Australian Financial Review.
Linfox reportedly wants to “bridge the gap” between online retailers and customers. “This is a way for them to get direct access to their customers and control the whole experience,” Carey added.
She notes that the Sydney fulfilment project has started small, but it will in future expand to service several retail sectors. “We really think there is an opportunity in areas like consumer health, healthcare, tech care, consumer electronics and even defence logistics,” she said.
Carey said that Linfox has been in talks with Amazon with a view to the logistics group providing services and warehousing for the e-Commerce company when it arrives in Australia, but no agreements have been reached.
Amazon has announced the 16 finalists in its third-annual Amazon Robotics Challenge, including two teams hailing from Australia.
At the event on 27 July in Nagoya, Japan, the teams will demonstrate their latest robotics hardware and software that can pick and stow items in storage
The Challenge combines object recognition, pose recognition, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, and error detection and recovery. The robots will be scored by how many items are successfully picked and stowed in a fixed amount of time.
Teams from Australia, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and the United States will be competing for a chance of winning up to US$250,000 ($339,000) in prizes.
“This challenge is an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions to the technical challenges we face in unstructured automation,” said Joey Durham, Contest Chairperson and Manager of Research and Advanced Development, Amazon Robotics. “It’s also a celebration of robotic innovation – something we are deeply focused on at Amazon – and provides a platform for the academic and research community to share and promote their research in a fun and rewarding way.”
The Australian teams taking part are ‘ACRV’, from Queensland University of Technology, and Applied Robotics – Smart Robotics, from the University of Sydney.
The Robotics Challenge will be held during RoboCup, a competition for intelligent robots and one of the world’s most important technology events in research and training. The 2016 contest was held at RoboCup in Leipzig, Germany, and was won by team Delft, a collaboration between Delft Robotics and TU Delft’s Robotics Institute.
“As a result of this contest, we are attracting more interest than ever before from robot manufacturers approaching us to pursue additional research,” said Carlos Hernandez Corbato, Team Delft Captain and postdoctoral researcher. “This challenge was the most exciting project I have ever done in research and the most gratifying because of how much we learned.”
Chinese robot company Geek+ has raised RMB100 million ($18 million) in a funding round led by Vertex Venture, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.
The Beijing-based enterprise was founded in 2015 and its robots have been likened to the Kiva robots used by Amazon to automate processes in its distribution centres.
The money raised will be used to support the start-up’s research and development capabilities and expand its team and business.
Geek+ manufactures robots for use in warehouses by the logistics industry. They are capable of selecting, transporting and sorting packages and objects, and can move autonomously to aid human colleagues with tasks.
Business Standard reports that 300 of Geek+’s robots can already be found at work in a number of industries including e-commerce, retail and manufacturing in China, covering over 50,000sqm of warehouse space.
It is backed by several large names, including Alibaba whose TMall e-commerce platform it supported during China’s biggest shopping event – Singles’ Day by sorting millions of packages.
FishPac, a supplier of equipment for the transport of air freighted live aquatic animals sustained with oxygen has announced that it has shipped 230,000 bins of live seafood.
Based on this estimate, FishPac also claims that it has:
- Shipped approximately 320 kilograms per bin, equating to almost 74 million kg of live seafood
- Saved the use of 6 million polystyrene boxes
- Saved approximately 8 million kilograms of live seafood from perishing in transit
- FishPac's average mortality is 1% (versus 12% with polystyrene boxes).
Along with these figures, FishPac has added black lip & green lip abalone, sea perch, barramundi, eel, king crab and a variety of juvenile fish (fingerlings), to previous coral trout shipments.
Regarding live Green lip abalone shipments General Manager Gavin Hodgins, said: “Keeping such a premium, fragile species alive is a new industry benchmark. This has been achieved with 500kg payloads with zero deaths; a feat that has never been seen before.”
“We have also seen some clients’ shipments reach a staggering 65 hours of transit time with very low oxygen use levels for species like King Crab. These are the sort of numbers the entire seafood industry has only ever dreamt about in the past. FishPac is now making these possibilities a reality,” said Hodgins.
With such massive changes in mortalities and productivity in packing and shipping, FishPac said its clients are seeing a 100% return on investment in as little as three months when converting to FishPac’s system.