Humanoid Robots Being Tested for Warehouse Automation

GXO partners with Apptronik to test AI-powered Apollo humanoid "warehouse buddy” robots

Ben Wodecki, Junior Editor - AI Business

June 24, 2024

2 Min Read
Apptronik's Apollo humanoid robot

GXO, one of the world’s largest logistics firms, is testing humanoid robots as part of a partnership with robotics developer Apptronik to automate warehouse work, including item picking.

With more than 970 facilities that span some 200 million square feet, GXO is hoping to augment its operations with what it describes as “AI-enabled warehouse buddies.” 

The partnership will involve GXO testing Apptronik’s Apollo humanoid robots to evaluate their suitability for automating item picking in distribution centers. The robots will be put to the test, carrying boxes of items while simultaneously navigating around other coworkers.

The pair will work together to fine-tune the underlying AI model that powers Apptronik’s humanoid robots before an eventual deployment in one of GXO’s U.S. distribution centers.

“We’re excited to partner with Apptronik to develop their AI-enabled humanoid robot,” said Adrian Stoch, GXO’s chief automation officer. “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.”

Apptronik’s humanoid robots stand at 5 feet, 8 inches and can carry 55 pounds. The robots run on specially configured batteries enabling them to run for optimal lengths in industrial settings.

Related:Humanoid Robot Unveiled by Apptronik

The humanoid robots contain linear actuators designed to mimic how human muscles move, providing the bots with a full range of mobility while being able to navigate around human coworkers.

“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,” said Jeff Cardenas, Apptronik’s CEO and co-founder. “That’s why we’re committed to helping technology leader GXO optimize its logistics operations and create an even safer, more engaging workplace for its employees with the help of Apollo. The two phases of this R&D program represent essential steps toward the launch of an innovative scalable automation solution for GXO.”

GXO already uses robots to automate operations in some of its warehouses.

It acquired robots from Wilmington, MA-based Locus back in 2022 to decrease “unproductive” walking time and help move and pick heavy goods.

Unlike Apptronik’s bots, the robotics solutions GXO is already using aren’t humanoids, they’re autonomous mobile units capable of navigating warehouse floors and pulling heavy pick trolleys.

Related:Locus Robotics Unveils New Warehouse Automation Robots

The logistics company has also made use of similar autonomous mobile robots from the Dutch company Lowpad. The robots handled temperature-controlled items, transporting them autonomously to truck drivers waiting at the docks. 

Upon announcing its partnership with Apptronik, GXO reported a 50% year-over-year increase in the number of automation units at its sites in 2023.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Junior Editor - AI Business

Ben Wodecki is the junior editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to junior editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others.

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