LoadRunner is being developed to operate as a swarm
KION Group will collaborate with Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) to develop LoadRunner, a distributed-AI-assisted vehicle that can operate as a swarm.
The partners will work together to take the concept from prototype to market-readiness, and on its ongoing technical refinement through a joint Enterprise Lab. KION will also license the LoadRunner technology from Fraunhofer IML for use in its international group of companies.
LoadRunner from Fraunhofer IML represents a new generation of autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) with substantial sorting capacity. Its distributed, intelligent vehicle coordination is designed to lift the high-speed AGVs to a new level of swarm robotics.
The common goal of the KION Group and Fraunhofer IML is to optimise AI-assisted swarm technology, from basic sensor to overarching platform, and launch it on the market.
"Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the industry, and we are actively involved in this trend. Expanding the use of artificial intelligence in our products and software solutions is a key pillar of our KION 2027 strategy," says Gordon Riske, KION chief executive officer. "The innovative LoadRunner technology and the partnership with Fraunhofer IML will help us to make our customers' warehouse processes even simpler, faster, and more efficient. This will ease the burden on the local logistics teams and significantly increase profitability."
Michael ten Hompel, managing director of Fraunhofer IML, sees the new product as "the blueprint for the intralogistics sector's path toward a digital platform economy that is networked in real time".
He says: "The vehicle swarms combine the capabilities of powerful sorting and materials handling technology with the potential of autonomous AI-based systems. The launch of the joint Enterprise Lab with the KION Group is an important reminder of the technology's disruptive potential. Our partnership with innovative intralogistics expert KION will open up global markets for the LoadRunner."
A team of eight employees from both partners will work together in the Enterprise Lab at Fraunhofer IML in Dortmund to further develop the LoadRunner technology. The lab is scheduled to begin its work this September and will operate for a minimum of three years.