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An Autonomous High-Speed Transporter for Tomorrow's Logistics


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Able to sort large quantities of packages, this high-speed transporter can serve booming online and mail-order businesses well.

A new generation of automated guided vehicles under development at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics includes "LoadRunners" that use artificial intelligence and communicate via 5G to organize themselves as a swarm and execute jobs independently.

Credit: Fraunhofer IML

Automated aerial vehicles guided by artificial intelligence (AI) are under development at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) to enhance logistics.

LoadRunners use simulation-based AI and communicate via 5G to form swarms and sort large amounts of packages.

The 20-drone LoadRunner swarm mimics a flock of birds, with each drone taking cues from neighbors' behavior, continuously adjusting flight direction and speed to match other units' trajectory; the reciprocal action of drones' individual decisions give rise to swarm intelligence that requires no central coordination.

Fraunhofer IML's Moritz Roidl said the LoadRunner can turn in any direction without pausing to maneuver, while an onboard camera captures 400 floor images per second to navigate even at high speeds in tight formations.

AI enables the LoadRunner to assume and execute jobs independently, which can help logistics centers accommodate increasing parcel volumes.

From Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany)
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