DHL is scaling up its robotic workforce. Last month it announced an expanded roll-out of Locus Robotics’ autonomous mobile robots, and today it said it’s scaling the use of Avidbots’ Neo floor-scrubbing robot.
Avidbots and DHL first started working together in North America in 2019. DHL will now install Neo robots in warehouses, hubs and terminals worldwide. When asked to specify how many Neos will be deployed, an Avidbots spokesperson would only say the number will be “in the hundreds.” The deployments will take place over the next 18-24 months, and each DHL warehouse requires only one Neo.
“DHL’s strong vote of confidence in the Neo floor-scrubbing robot is a testament to the hard work the entire Avidbots team has put into building the world’s only fully-autonomous floor-scrubbing robot,” said Faizan Shiekh, CEO and Co-founder of Avidbots. “We’re thrilled to expand our partnership to deploy Neo robots in DHL warehouses on every continent.”
Here is a video The Robot Report took of a Neo operating inside a DHL warehouse in Chicago:
“Floor-cleaning robots, while a simple innovation, reduces up to 80% of labor hours spent cleaning,” said Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Innovation & Commercial Development at DHL. “This frees up our staff to engage in more value-adding, customer-centric work while driving our Strategy 2025 digitalization agenda forward.”
Avidbots manufactures the Neo robots at its manufacturing facility in Kitchener, Ontario. The spokesperson told The Robot Report the facility is running at full capacity, with workers spaced apart for social distancing and respecting all safety and security measures.
“Avidbots has not run into any manufacturing problems as of yet, as the parts it needs are in full supply,” the spokesperson said. “It has the capacity to meet not just DHL’s need in the coming quarters, but also to meet a surge in demand it’s experiencing overall.”
After an initial facility-mapping process, Neo can autonomously clean an environment thanks to proprietary software, 3D sensors and cameras. Connected to the cloud through WiFi and 4G, Neo includes 24×7 monitoring and automatically receives software updates to add new functionality.
Avidbots said it is seeing a 100% increase in demand since before the pandemic due the robot’s ability to disinfect floors. Neo has two tanks, one for clean water and one for dirty water. The company said users can put disinfectant in Neo’s clean water tank.
Earlier in April, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport became the first U.S. airport to deploy Neo. Neo cleans the airport for six hours at a time, which is the maximum time it can run on one charge.
Avidbots raised a $23.6 million in Series B funding in March 2019, raising its venture capital financing to a total of $36 million.