Honeywell launches warehouse robotics research centre

Honeywell Robotics has created a new centre in Pittsburgh that will look at warehouse automation solutions

The Pittsburgh-based center will be focused on innovating and developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and advanced robotics [Credit: Honeywell]

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has announced the formation of Honeywell Robotics, a technology centre focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and advanced robotics for use across supply chains.

Based in Pittsburgh, Honeywell Robotics will help shape the warehouse and distribution centre of the future, particularly as companies look to automated solutions, software and robotics to deliver increased speed, accuracy and throughput in complex material handling environments.

Honeywell hopes that there will be plenty of demand for robotics in warehouses, as online purchasing, combined with same- or next-day delivery options, has created a major labour shortfall in the industry currently. Nearly 80% of distribution centre operations are still performed manually, according to DHL's Robotics in Logistics Study. Honeywell said in a release that industry growth is outpacing the labour pool by a rate of 6 to 1.

The new centre will be led by Joseph Lui, a robotics leader with expertise in digital data, autonomous technologies and the industrial Internet of Things. He previously served as Director of Industrial IoT and Automation Technologies, Robotics for Amazon.

Its establishment adds on to Honeywell’s bet on RPA in the logistics space through investment and  partnerships with software vendors, universities, start-ups and incubators. Honeywell is collaborating with AI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center to develop breakthrough robotics technologies for distribution centres.

The company, through its Honeywell Ventures investment fund, has strategic investments in robotics companies, including Soft Robotics and Attabotics, to help automate complex tasks in dynamic environments.

"Honeywell has been at the forefront of warehouse automation technology for more than 25 years helping customers improve productivity and efficiency," said Pieter Krynauw, president of Honeywell Intelligrated. "We are bringing together some of the brightest minds, partnerships and industry collaborations to create breakthrough technological advancements for customers of all sizes, helping meet the ever-changing demands of consumers."

"As AI, machine learning and computer vision become commonplace, Honeywell Robotics will create innovative, breakthrough technologies to help customers alleviate skilled labor shortages, reduce safety risks and eliminate inefficient tasks," said Lui. "The use of technology – including advanced warehouse execution systems, 3D storage and sortation solutions to improve capacity and efficiency, and autonomous mobile robots – is just the start of the digital transformation in warehouses."

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