GXO Logistics begins trials of Apptronik's Apollo humanoid robot

US logistics giant GXO has announced a partnership with humanoid robot developer Apptronik to explore practical warehouse applications of the company’s Apollo humanoid robot.

One of a number of humanoid robots currently under development around the world, Apollo stands at 1.7m tall, can carry 30 kilos and operates on swappable batteries. The robot is powered by linear actuators that mimic the mechanics of human muscles and provide a full range of mobility, whilst a force control architecture and flexible safety zone perimeter allow it to work safely around and directly with people.

“Our mission is to build versatile robots that can do work in real-world applications – from large, powerful movements like transporting boxes and totes to small, precise ones like picking individual items or scanning barcodes,” explained Jeff Cardenas, co-founder & CEO of Apptronik, which was spun out of the Human Centered Robotics Lab at the University of Texas at Austin in 2016. The Apollo robot draws on the design and development of over 10 general purpose robots including NASA's Valkyrie humanoid robot project.

Together, the two companies are evaluating and fine-tuning the overall performance of the robot in a lab setting ahead of deployment in a US distribution centre.  

Commenting on these latest trials Adrian Stoch, Chief Automation Officer at GXO said: “Apollo has great potential to add value throughout the distribution center, including the most labor-intensive operational processes. These kinds of robotics reduce repetitive work and improve safety while freeing associates to focus on higher-value-added activities.”

The partnership with Apptronik is the second of its kind for GXO, which is also exploring applications of Agility Robotics Digit humanoid robot.  

Check out the forthcoming July issue of The Engineer for an in depth report on potential of general-purpose humanoid robots.

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