Recently, the first 5G automatic warehouse jointly built by Suning Logistics, ZTE, Jiangsu Mobile, GeekPlus and VisionNav Robotics has open up to accelerate 5G commercialization. These company also jointly released "5G Empowering Suning Could Warehouse Flexible Production Innovation Demonstration White Paper".
Regarding Suning's 5G automated warehouse project, reporter interviewed the relevant person in charge in VisionNav Robotics:
Question 1: Can you briefly introduce VisionNav Robotics?
VisionNav Robotics was founded in 2016 by a team of doctors from The University of Tokyo and The Chinese University of Hong Kong. It is the world's leading supplier of vision guided industrial vehicles, dedicated to providing enterprises with intelligent and safe driverless industrial vehicles products and flexible automated material handling solutions. The core cofounding team of VisionNav Robotics is led by Professor Yunhui Liu, the Choh-Ming Li Professor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Director of the CUHK T Stone Robotics Institute. There are also senior technical talents with in-depth research and major project experience in the fields of visual perception, visual servo control, robotic AI algorithms and 5G, including doctors graduated from world-class university, and core members of excellent R&D teams from companies such as Qualcomm, Disney, Emerson, DJI, Tencent, and Zoomlion.
Question 2: Which parts of Suning 5G cloud warehouse VisionNav Robotics participated in? What functions are implemented?
VisionNav Robotics combines vision with 5G technology, and cooperate with Suning Logistics to create an integrated solution from the ground to the roof top to complete the storage process from the buffer storage area to AS/RS, and the retrieval process from AS/RS to the sorting area.
On the ground, VisionNav Robotics use 5G automated guided forklift to organically combine 5G edge computing with vision technology. To be exact, the 5G automated guided forklift provided by VisionNav Robotics uses 4 high-definition cameras to collect real-time images from straight ahead, left front, right front and the rear back of the vehicle, and uses 5G network slicing technology to transmit the collected data to the video server on the edge side, then use edge computing technology to complete video data real-time processing and analysis locally. This 5G-based visual obstacle detection solution can perceive obstacles within 20m, effectively helping driverless industrial vehicles to achieve autonomous driving in complex logistics scenarios.
On the roof top, VisionNav Robotics deploys 5G-based "BrightEye System" to collect information of environmental elements in the logistics site in real time, such as storage locations, vehicles, operators, and goods, and transmit it to the video server on the edge. After computing at the edge, instructions are issued to driverless industrial vehicles, and various information is displayed to the administrator, including robot status, real-time monitoring pictures, etc., to achieve seamless connection between humans and machines, which is important media for human-machine collaboration as well as an effective means to realize logistics automation and intellectualization.
Question 3: What are the main features and difficulties in this project?
One of the most important barriers to promote driverless industrial vehicles using visual sensors as the core is that single-vehicle computing power is insufficient so it is unable to use rich visual information to improve motion control capabilities. The introduction of 5G edge computing technology in this project, its high-speed transmission rate and powerful edge computing capabilities, can complement our vision technology to perfectly solve the problem of insufficient single-vehicle computing power.
However, the difficulty of the project is still the peak efficiency, which is also the challenge that all automated warehouses face every year before 818 festivals and other promotional events. The introduction of 5G technology this time greatly improves the speed of information transmission and stability of driverless industrial vehicles, and reduces the delay caused by busy dispatch.
Question 4: From the perspective of driverless industrial vehicles, what impact will 5G bring?
5G communication has wide coverage, controllable delay, low delay, and excellent bandwidth, which is especially suitable for the related applications of vision and automated guided vehicles.
On one hand, 5G technology can realize real-time communication among a large number of remote devices. By moving the vehicle-mounted computing units to the remote end, it can greatly reduce the cost of the terminal equipment, minimize the modification modules, making “cloud vehicles” becomes possible.
On the other hand, the bandwidth and stability of 5G network provide effective technical support for edge computing, which has greatly improved intelligence and flexibility of driverless industrial vehicles. 5G technology will inject great momentum for the development of driverless industrial vehicles, and may become a key engine for the fast growing of some logistics robot companies.
VisionNav Robotics believes that with the rise of new generation communication technologies such as 5G, the combination of vision and 5G is a future trend in the field of logistics automation. Based on years of precipitation and understanding of vision technology, VisionNav Robotics is committed to realizing the mass application of driverless industrial vehicles with "vision + 5G", as well as the large-scale replication of visual automated warehousing solutions for more scenarios in rigid demands.