Today, ex9.tech unveiled its autonomous, all-electric transport tractor, designed to move trailers around logistics warehouses, distribution hubs, and industrial sites. The French startup positioned the EX9 as a uncrewed transport as a service, or TaaS, enabling customers to scale to meet changing demand without needing to purchase and maintain a distinct fleet of vehicles.
TaaS is a form of robots as a service (RaaS) that is designed specifically for the logistics market. EX9 said it provides clients with a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), along with complete installation and maintenance of the fleet, for a set service fee.
The company also said its TaaS business model enables clients to bring in more throughput when demands change in the supply chain. During high-demand periods of the year, they can deploy more EX9 vehicles to meet additional demands of clients.
“At EX9, we deeply believe that now is the right time to make industries more human-centric, deploy solutions to make the supply chain more efficient, and adopt more sustainable ways of production and transport,” according to Ksenia Duarte, CEO of EX9.
EX9 integrates into logistics operations
EX9 said its robot’s low profile and smaller footprint make it more nimble than the typical manually driven yard truck. This design enables the vehicle to maneuver and operate with greater clearance and a tighter turning radius than a manual yard truck.
The AMRs operate outdoors and autonomously navigate with onboard sensors that perform obstacle detection, localization, and navigation. Their Autopilot algorithms are based on AI and computer vision.
They are trained for a dense and dynamic logistics environment and include features like dock door identification and real-time yard mapping. Trailer yards are dynamic environments whose rows of parked trailers change from hour to hour.
In addition, the robots can operate in changing environmental and weather conditions, said EX9. They also integrate object detection, trajectory planning, and dynamic control of the robot, as well as connectivity with the control tower. The AMR knows where it is, which trailer to pick up, where to drop it off, and when, and where to park or go back to the charging station.
As part of its service delivery, EX9 integrates the control tower and fleet management into its site operations system. The system provides remote monitoring, data analytics, and remote operations to site supervisors as needed.
The typical workflow for an EX9 robot is to approach a parked trailer, autonomously engage it, and then transport the trailer to a new parking spot. The EX9 has the functionality to autonomously back the trailer into a warehouse loading dock bay.
EX9 promises sustainability, efficiency
Core to EX9’s design is an all-electric, battery-powered vehicle, which enables the company‘s clients to reduce their carbon footprint. In addition, EX9 claimed that it can reduce emissions by optimizing fleet usage, reducing equipment engine idle times, and ensuring that machines are always driven with best-in-case trajectories.
In France, using the tool provided by the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME), EX9 has shown that its system can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 94% compared with diesel yard tractors, which are 98% of the current fleet. In addition to CO2 and airborne particulate emissions, noise is an important consideration, especially for terminals located in densely populated urban areas.
In addition to reducing C02 emissions, EX9 is also helping clients who struggle to hire and maintain a skilled workforce. The company said it is looking to take the offering global.
DHL tests and approves system
Last September, the supply chain division of DHL EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) deployed and tested EX9’s autonomous electric robot and suite for moving trailers at its site in Mitry-Mory, France. DHL and EX9 chose the site because it had several types of loading, various goods, and transport and shunting processes.
The DHL EMEA site handles about 200 truck movements per day, including incoming, outgoing, and roughly 30 pre-loading operations. Fluidity is key in logistics and multimodal transport services.
The EX9 robots have contributed to an increase of more than 20% in preloading, thus reducing waiting time for transport truck drivers while speeding up rotations. They also allow DHL to increase the practice of “drop & hook,” which involves dropping off a trailer and setting off again with one that is already loaded.
Eventually, a site like Mitry-Mory could operate with two or three robots. As an example of a logistic hub deploying 10 robots, a three-year service could result in $1.5 million in cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 500 tons, based on EU calculations.
“After a successful pilot with DHL France, we are thrilled to launch globally and help accelerate the progress of automation in Industrial Closed compounds with concrete solutions, thanks to our in-house Autopilot software focused on logistics use cases and fast deployment tools for operations in real conditions,” Duarte said.
EX9 will be exhibiting at CES 2024 this week in the Eureka Park section of the Las Vegas event.