Mobile Industrial Robots launches MiR1200 autonomous pallet jack

Mobile Industrial Robots incorporated new AI capabilities into the MiR1200 Pallet Jack. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots
NVIDIA provided new AI capabilities for the MiR1200 Pallet Jack. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots

Autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs, are among the systems benefitting from the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Mobile Industrial Robots A/S today at LogiMAT launched the MiR1200 Pallet Jack, which it said uses 3D vision and AI to identify pallets for pickup and delivery “with unprecedented precision.”

“The MiR1200 Pallet Jack is our latest effort to push the boundaries in autonomous material handling,” stated Mads Paulin, vice president of research and development at MiR. “We believe that the built-in AI detection system is a significant improvement over older detection technologies.”

“Our approach will reduce pick-and-place cycle times, deliver best-in-class pick accuracy, and allow us to continuously deliver advanced, AI-based functionality and value to our customers,” he claimed.

Why now for the MiR1200 Pallet Jack?

With numerous other AMRs, autonomous forklifts, and semi-autonomous pallet jacks already on the market, why did Mobile Industrial Robots decide to develop one now?

“We announced our intention to create an autonomous pallet jack in 2021,” said Kevin Dumas, vice president of product at the Odense, Denmark-based company. “In this case, being a fast follower is a good strategy.”

“Lots of products on the market use 2D lidar but require pallets in very good condition,” he told Mobile Robot Guide at the R-24 conference in Odense, Denmark. “If you look at pallet jacks built by other companies, they’re focused on building robots first. We expect to run for a long time in many environments, so we built a robust truck.”

“While AMRs already use machine learning for obstacle detection and avoidance, they didn’t need large language models [LLMs],” added Ujjwal Kumar, group president at Teradyne Robotics. “But autonomous pallet jacks must recognize real pallets that are often damaged, painted, or covered in shrink wrap. They needed to get smarter to detect them.”

AMR uses AutoGuide tech, addresses labor shortages

Teradyne is also applying technology from AutoGuide Mobile Robots, which it acquired in 2019 and combined with the MiR brand in 2022. Teradyne had acquired Mobile Industrial Robots in 2022.

“We took the team and technology from AutoGuide but didn’t want to build a standalone pallet jack,” said Kumar, who will deliver a keynote at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston in May. “We had the AMR experience of MiR and could focus on pallet detection.”

The MiR1200 Pallet Jack’s 3D vision addresses labor-intensive materials handling, The new robot can dynamically modify its route to avoid obstacles such as loose objects on the floor or overhead obstacles.

Mobile Industrial Robots added that its new pallet jack can navigate in tight spaces with minimal changes to the existing infrastructure, making it suitable for optimizing logistics efficiency. Palletizing is a more straightforward workflow to automate than each picking, Dumas said.

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The NVIDIA connection

Mobile Industrial Robots’ new system processes a large amount of camera and lidar data in real time by accelerating the full stack on the GPU and several other processors built into the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin module.

“Mobile Industrial Robots is still the largest AMR player outside of China, with the largest installed base of about 10,000 robots,” Kumar told Mobile Robot Guide at NVIDIA GTC in San Jose, Calif. “NVIDIA recognized the value of MiR’s complementary ecosystem of partners, OEMs, and end users.”

To get to safe, reliable, and complete autonomy, the MiR1200 Pallet Jack trained on 1.2 million images, according to Kumar.

“With NVIDIA Isaac Sim and MiR, customers can add both real and simulated images,” said Dumas. “We’re just at the beginning of that journey, and by future-proofing, we can expand into more areas of AI.”

The MiR1200 Pallet Jack is one of the first AI-enabled products from Teradyne, he observed.

“Simulation isn’t just for modeling; it’s also for infrastructure,” Dumas said. “With transfers, we can validate repeatedly and reliably. With any change to the environment or model, such as a wooden conference floor, you have to do massive testing.”

NVIDIA provided new AI capabilities for the MiR1200 Pallet Jack. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots
The MiR1200 Pallet Jack trained on real and simulated images. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots

Mobile Industrial Robots integrates offerings

The MiR1200 Pallet Jack is designed to integrate into existing MiR fleets and work with the company’s deck-load AMRs. Mobile Industrial Robots said the new system can help enterprises that typically operate more complex workflows, with larger fleets and multiple sites.

“As the latest addition to MiR’s wide range of AMRs, the MiR1200 Pallet Jack adds a new application area to our existing solutions for transportation scenarios from small to heavy loads, pallet transportation, and more,” said Jean-Pierre Hathout, president of MiR, in a release.

“All robots can be seamlessly managed and integrated via our industry-leading fleet management tool, MiR Fleet, and monitored and optimized using MiR Insights,” he said.

Customer demand ‘insatiable’

Was the automated pallet jack built in response to market demand?

“Customer demand seems insatiable,” said Dumas. “Pallet manipulation has come up in every conversation with existing and potential customers, after the availability of labor.”

As an established AMR provider, MiR has demonstrated that it can address the total cost of ownership more easily than new entrants to this space, he noted.

“With MiR1200 Pallet Jack, we have developed a rugged AMR pallet jack that will work in existing customer sites that present unique environmental challenges for automation,” Hathout added. “In addition, the MiR1200 Pallet Jacks’ robust tricycle drive system is developed through a partnership with Logitrans, which has 80+ years of experience with material handling.”

MiR has worked with Logitrans on the automated pallet jack. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots
MiR has worked with Logitrans on the automated pallet jack. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots

Mobile Industrial Robots makes safety a priority

“Safety is in the DNA of every MiR product,” said Hathout. “The MiR1200 Pallet Jack complies with the latest product safety standards, including ISO 3691-4 [which governs industrial trucks].”

“The fusion of multiple sensor platforms and top-tier safety features provides a much safer alternative to traditional forklifts, pallet trucks and manual pallet jacks,” he said.

NVIDIA Jetson’s sensor fusion of four RGBD cameras and 3D lidar data provides precise detection of obstacles on the floor, overhead, and around the robot in dynamic environments such as warehouses, said Mobile Industrial Robots.

The MiR1200 Pallet Jack has an IP 52 rating for dust and water, with rugged wheels for mobility over multiple surfaces. In addition, it has a high battery capacity, a charging ratio of 1:14, and the option of opportunistic charging for 24/7 workflows.

Eugene Demaitre
Written by

Eugene Demaitre

Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of the robotics group at WTWH Media. He was senior editor of The Robot Report from 2019 to 2020 and editorial director of Robotics 24/7 from 2020 to 2023. Prior to working at WTWH Media, Demaitre was an editor at BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, TechTarget, and Robotics Business Review.

Demaitre has participated in robotics webcasts, podcasts, and conferences worldwide. He has a master's from the George Washington University and lives in the Boston area.