The point of sale holds great potential for robotics and automation technologies; almost all logistics activities are usually still performed manually. Robots can relieve employees from repetitive tasks and assist with employee and customer safety. First robots are now used in stores in the US and Europe for inventory checks.
The experiment SA3IR is focused on the transportation of goods to the shelf by autonomous mobile robots. It will develop a framework aimed at endowing a fleet of small autonomous trucks for the retail sector with the capability of adapting their behaviour at runtime to cope with changing situations. At a high-level, this framework will allow process optimization by correctly managing all the data related to trucks and carts, warehouse layout, and operations involving both robots and humans. At a situational level, it will allow re-planning operations and the adaptation of each robot behaviour. With this extended capabilities, the SA3IR framework aims at mitigating the lack of flexibility and adaptation of current systems, identified in the Robotics 2020 Multi-Annual Roadmap as one of the main barriers to market in intra-logistics. Thus, the outcomes of the SA3IR project have the potential to achieve a great impact in this sector.
SA3IR was initiated by MetraLabs GmbH (Ilmenau/Germany), the Universidad de Extremadura (Cáceres/Spain) and the Universidad de Málaga (Spain). MetraLabs has already launched the small autonomous low-lift pallet truck CARY to move carts in factories of automotive suppliers. CARY is now tailored to trolleys that are used at the POS. Towards the end of the project, the use case will be tested in a real store.