Brain Corp, an AI company creating transformative core technology in the robotics industry, today announced that its manufacturing partners are involved in multiple pilots and initial deployments of BrainOS-powered autonomous delivery tugs. The commercial rollouts mark the industry debut of a new robotic application that helps retailers to bridge the automation gap in moving carts and loose-pack inventory from the stockroom out to store shelves.
The rollouts and pilots at major retail locations nationwide are being carried out by Dane Technologies, a leader in designing and manufacturing power assist solutions, and UniCarriers Americas Corporation (UCA), one of the world’s largest high-performance material handling equipment companies. Brain Corp signed agreements with both companies to enable manufacturing of the tugs.
Until now, robotic delivery tugs that move materials and goods back and forth were relegated to warehouse settings. Brain Corp’s AI technology enables safe navigation in public environments, making it the first tug application of its kind capable of operating within high-traffic commercial locations, such as retail and grocery aisles, according to robotics analyst firm ABI Research.
“The supply chain ends at the customer, not the back warehouse,” said John Black, the senior vice president of new product development. “These new autonomous delivery robots help automate the movement of goods for that ‘last 500 feet’ – the distance between the stockroom and store shelves. This has huge ramifications for increasing employee productivity, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing potential exposure to workers’ comp claims. We are excited to bring this new innovation to market with our manufacturing partners.”
The intelligent machines, which are built with BrainOS, an AI software platform for building and using autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), provide immediate relief to retailers and grocers struggling to keep shelves stocked during the COVID-19 health crisis and even support online order fulfillment. The robots eliminate the laborious process of having employees haul heavy, stock-laden carts from the stockroom out to store shelves dozens of times a day. Instead, employees can use the delivery robots to automate the safe transportation of up to 1,000 pounds of goods from one point to another with the push of a button. This results in less wear and tear on employees, enabling more focus on new customer health and safety requirements. It also encourages social distancing by enabling workers to stay in separate zones.
Initial Brain Corp estimates indicate that retailers could save on average up to $100,000 per year per location using the autonomous delivery tug depending on size of the store, number of employees, and other key factors. This includes between six to 12 hours per day in transport labor savings, as well as reduced risk and staff turnover costs.
“This is a true game changer for retailers and other businesses that want to easily automate an arduous and repetitive task,” said Dan Johnson, founder and CEO of Dane Technologies, which pioneered the QuicKART, the world’s most widely adopted shopping cart return system. “The value is off the charts for this application, which can also be used to transport trash and recyclables, as well support online order fulfillment. We are thrilled to be working with Brain Corp, an AI technology leader that has more data and edge case experience in public retail spaces than any other company out there.”
The BrainOS-powered delivery tugs can operate safely within a variety of public indoor spaces, including grocery, retail, airports, warehouses, and more. The units do not require any custom infrastructure or specialized training, delivering “accessible automation” on the spot. Users can leverage a patented “teach and repeat” technology that simplifies deployment and can be adapted on the fly to changes in store layout. Users can also leverage cloud-based performance metrics in near real-time to get reports on delivery usage, routes, drop-offs, and more.
Autonomous delivery marks the third major commercial robotic application leveraging Brain Corp technology, following robotic floor scrubbers and vacuum sweepers. Because the robots are equipped with sensors, they can collect a variety of environmental data that can be used to better understand operational and product performance. Future Brain Corp innovations can leverage this unique data to deliver more applications, like shelf analytics, which helps retailers better manage inventory, pricing accuracy, and planogram compliance. Although these robotic applications are used by different manufacturing partners, they all use the same centralized AI platform, which brings powerful benefits in terms of managing disparate fleets, hosting and centralizing data, and providing proven safety standards.
Altogether, Brain Corp and its partners have deployed 10,000 robots worldwide on four continents. This represents the largest fleet of AMRs operating in commercial indoor public spaces in the world, charting a total of more than 2 million autonomous hours.
The BrainOS platform and its cloud-connected autonomy service are used by global manufacturing partners to successfully build, deploy, and support commercial robots at scale across industries and applications. Through intuitive software and controls, BrainOS also enables end customers to easily leverage the power of robotics to offload repetitive, labor-intensive tasks related to floor care, in-store inventory delivery, and shelf-scanning. This frees employees’ time to focus on higher-value responsibilities. Working with its partners, Brain Corp has deployed over 10,000 robots within retail, grocery, malls, airports, hospitals, warehouses, and other industries.