Fetch Robotics' Fetch and Freight solve your logistics problems

Robots have started invading factories, automating tedious and sometimes dangerous workloads once assigned to humans. But there is one area of the industry business where robots have yet to become a more efficient and more viable option: warehouse logistics. The process of repeatedly picking up products from warehouse shelves, carrying them back and forth locations points to prepare for shipping sounds like a perfect job for robots, and yet very few are actually used here. Fetch Robotics believes it has the answer to that puzzle.

Some companies that do make a living out of this process do already employ robots. Somewhat. Amazon revealed its small army of robots from Kiva Systems that help keep its human workers from going insane during Cyber Mondays. And yet human intervention is still too big a part of this process and other companies like Google and eBay still don't employ such robots. Or at least they're being quiet about it.

Fetch Robotics' solution is to actually use two robots instead of one. A robot like Kiva's, named Freight, moves items inside buckets with great speed across areas. But another robot named Fetch is the one responsible for actually picking up an item from stock and putting it on Freight's head. Freight is basically a robot arm that can lift as much as 6 kilograms and enjoys 7 degrees of freedom. It utilizes PrimeSense 3D on its head (yes, it has a head) for sensing objects.

Freight resembles a taller version of Amazon's Kiva robots and also looks like a Fetch with its arm cut off from the movable base. It uses differential drives and lasers to "see" its surroundings and avoid obstacles, including humans. It can move a lot faster than Fetch, at 2 meters per second. While it can work in tandem with Fetch, Freight can also follow a human along while said human fills up his order, putting everything inside Freight's bin, called a "Follow Pick" mode.

Fetch Robotics is designing this robotic duo for use in actual work and not for study. Warehouse and business owners need not get too excited just yet, as there is still no timeline or specific price tag for these robots, though Fetch is hinted to cost less than $100,000 and Freight less than third of that.