GEODIS has partnered with Phantom Auto, a company specialising in long-range remote operation software for unmanned vehicles, to develop a fork truck that can be controlled from thousands of miles away.
The solution uses a Fenwick forklift combined with Phantom's network-agnostic and interoperable remote operation software.
The software provides real-time eyes and ears all around each vehicle, enabling operators to safely and confidently guide the vehicles from wherever is convenient.
The overarching aims of the project are to reduce injuries and increase overall safety in warehouses; reduce the number of people physically inside warehouses to enhance worker comfort; create new future-proof remote operator jobs that can be carried out within a office environment; hire individuals who may have physical disabilities restricting their use of traditional forklifts as well as people from other historically under-represented demographics; and recruit from regions outside where the warehouses are located, including areas of higher unemployment.
The first tests took place in Levallois and Le Mans, as part of a multi-year cooperation between GEODIS, Phantom Auto, and Fenwick-Linde.
"Phantom Auto's technology enables dynamic balancing of workforce allocation, safer warehouses, enhanced worker well-being, and employment opportunities to those who otherwise could not physically drive forklifts. This innovation will be of benefit to the wider community and indicates the future of logistics operations. We believe that technology should serve people, and that is what this partnership with Phantom Auto illustrates," Stéphanie Hervé, GEODIS' Chief Operating Officer Western Europe, Middle East & Africa, commented.
Phantom Auto's Co-Founder Elliot Katz added, "Phantom's remote operation software can help people with physical disabilities not just to get from point A to point B, but also with actual employment opportunities, and we are thrilled that GEODIS is using our technology for good."
The remotely-operated forklift idea comes from a GEODIS manager and has been developed in the framework of the company's internal innovation programme.