Quiet Logistics, which ships apparel out of its Devens, Mass., warehouse, had been using robots made by a company called Kiva Systems. When Amazon bought Kiva in 2012, Quiet hired scientists. In 2015 it spun out a new company called Locus Robotics, which raised $8m in venture capital. Last year, Locus unveiled its own warehouse robotics solution called the LocusBot - first using it for its own business, then selling them to companies that ship everything from housewares to auto parts.
Now, Locus has landed a bigger fish: It’s selling its robots to DHL Worldwide Express, the world’s largest third-party logistics company. DHL will use the machines at a South Haven, Miss., location to help ship surgical devices to operating rooms across the country.
To do that, Locus’s software directs a LocusBot to a shelf where the specific item is located. A human worker meets it there, reads a description of the item off an iPad, and drops it into a plastic bucket mounted on the machine. The idea is that the robot does the majority of the traveling, while the worker simply patrols a specified zone.
“The first trend was to try to replace humans,” Locus CEO Rick Faulk said. “Now it’s about humans and robots working collaboratively.”
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