After the doors of the dm stores close, this robot gets to work first. Ubica Robotics has unveiled a scanning robot that roams the drugstore chain’s deserted aisles at night and scans the stores to create a complete, up-to-the-minute digital twin. Supermarket chain REWE is also showing interest.
Ubica scanning robot deployed in dm stores
More than 20,000 items make up the average assortment of a drugstore in Germany. Keeping track of how much of which product is still in stock and whether everything is in the right place is a mammoth task.
A challenge that, at least in the test run at the drugstore dm, is now being taken on by an Ubica scanning robot. It was developed at start-up Ubica Robotics, which emerged from a study at the University of Bremen in 2020.
Ubica Robotics is based on the research results of the project “REFILLS” (Robotics Enabling Fully-Integrated Logistics Lines for Supermarkets), funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, and is composed of four founding members.
With the help of scanning robots, the company aims to reduce operational costs in stores, as founder Jonas Reiling revealed in an interview with Handelsblatt. The little helpers record, recognize and identify the furniture and inventory of retail stores on a daily (or rather “nightly”) basis.
In the process, they create a complete, up-to-the-minute data image – a so-called digital twin – which promises previously impossible productivity and efficiency gains. BMW is also currently using 3D laser scanning to digitize all of its vehicle plants with a digital twin.
Autonomous navigation with AI capabilities
The Ubica scanning robot relies on a rather wide base with a long column thanks to which it is able to completely scan even high shelves. The robot performs its work completely autonomously while navigating through the aisles with the help of laser technology.
With the help of several 2D and 3D cameras, the robot scans the entire shelf inventory and even detects when products have not been placed in their rightful place. It is also able to read price tags and match them with the correct label. If a shelf is empty, this does not go unnoticed by the robot either.
Theoretically, all that is left to do the next morning is for the person responsible to evaluate the data and immediately recognize which shelves need to be restocked, which items need to be reordered and which products need to be returned to their destination.
According to the company, the results can also be used to improve the shopping experience. For example, by optimizing walkways within stores and making it easier for customers and employees to find products.
The scanning robots are currently being tested in stores of the drugstore chain dm, according to the report. Around 50 robots are expected to scan the stores by the end of 2022. The supermarket chain REWE is also showing interest in the technology, according to Handelsblatt.
The start-up company certainly has the know-how. After all, Ubica Robotics was awarded the EHI Science Prize as Best Start-Up 2022 and the eu robotics Technology Transfer Award 2022.
And if something should go wrong, you can always get surgical care from a robot. A robot recently completed a surgical exercise better than a human for the first time.