MiR is building autonomous pallet jacks

MiR Logitran pallet jack
Logitrans CEO Gitte Kirkegaard (third from left) and MiR CEO Søren E. Nielsen (far right). | Photo Credit: Mobile Industrial Robots

Mobile Industrial Robotics (MiR) and Logitrans A/S have teamed up to build autonomous pallet jacks. The companies plan to combine MiR’s autonomous navigation and software capabilities with Logitran’s electric pallet jacks. The plan is to make both a fully autonomous pallet jack and a semi autonomous pallet jack.

MiR already has robots that can transport pallets, but they require special pallet racks or integration of accessories. MiR said its customers have been requesting AMRs that can pick up and deliver pallets from the ground.

“Our mission has always been to transform the way companies handle internal logistics so they can be more productive and competitive—and this new initiative is another giant step forward in doing so,” said Søren E. Nielsen, president of MiR. “Combining our software competencies with Logitrans’ decades of hardware knowledge will help us to quickly fill this gap so that we can support our customers throughout their entire value chain.”

In August 2021, MiR launched two heavy-duty AMRs, adding to its current line of lower capacity AMRs. The launch put MiR’s highest payload capacity at 3,000 lbs (1350 kg). MiR’s high capacity AMRs can pick up pallets, but only from specifically-designed racks. MiR said the collaboration with Logitran will help it to better serve customers that have been asking about an AMR that can pick up pallets from the ground.

MiR already has AMRs that can pick up pallets, but they require special pallet racks.

Teradyne stacking up pallet-moving robots

Teradyne, an automatic test equipment supplier, now owns two robotics companies developing robots to move pallets. MiR and AutoGuide Mobile Robots, which Teradyne acquired in October 2019 for $58 million. AutoGuide focuses exclusively on heavy-duty AMRs and already has a robot for moving pallets – an autonomous forklift.

A source told The Robot Report that MiR has been working on a pallet-moving robot prior to Teradyne’s acquisition of AutoGuide. The source said, “this was something MiR knew they had to address early on in its history and sought out customer input.”

At the time of the acquisition, Teradyne said AutoGuide’s AMRs would complement MiR’s line of light-duty AMRs. In 2019, MiR’s highest payload was 2,204 lbs (1000 kg), while AutoGuide’s highest was 10,000 lbs.

AutoGuide Mobile Robots’ autonomous forklift. | Photo Credit: AutoGuide Mobile Robots

However, AutoGuide has gone through a reset in 2021. In April, AutoGuide president and CEO Rob Sullivan resigned. Tim Moriarity, Teradyne’s president of memory products, stepped in to take his place.

Revenue for Teradyne’s industrial automation group, which also includes Energid and Universal Robots, declined 6% in 2020 to $280 million. MiR grew 1% with sales of $45 million and, on a pro forma basis, AutoGuide also grew. Teradyne’s industrial automation group’s revenue has, so far, rebounded from its dip in 2020. Through the first three quarters of 2021, the group has generated $263-plus million in revenue.

“When these AMR pallet jacks come to market, companies can rely on MiR as a solution provider for most of their intralogistics needs,” Nielsen added. “Collaborating with Logitrans will help us meet the increasing demands for these offerings even sooner, which in turn will help our customers reach their business goals.”

Written by

Brianna Wessling

Brianna Wessling is an Associate Editor, Robotics, WTWH Media. She joined WTWH Media in November 2021, and is a recent graduate from the University of Kansas. She can be reached at bwessling@wtwhmedia.com