The Otto Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers, has signed a strategic agreement with Boston Dynamics, a global provider of mobile robotics, to continue automating its logistics operations, the companies announced earlier this week.
The plan is to deploy Boston Dynamics’ Spot robots in more than 10 and Stretch robots in more than 20 of the group’s facilities over the next two years, beginning with Hermes Fulfilment. The deployment supports Otto Group’s efforts to improve safety, increase operational efficiency and address labor shortages for specific types of warehouse work and the agreement marks the first time both of Boston Dynamics’ commercially available robots will be deployed together at enterprise scale, Boston Dynamics pointed out.
Under the terms of the agreement, Spot, the four-legged mobile robot from Boston Dynamics, will support tunnel inspections and predictive maintenance activities for operations equipment, including thermal monitoring, analog gauge reading and acoustic detection of pressurized air and gas leaks. The Spot fleet will also run autonomous missions, collecting data for machine learning models to support tasks like fire exit egress monitoring and detecting slight changes in storage racks to keep Otto Group’s warehouses even safer.
In addition, the Otto Group will be utilizing Stretch, Boston Dynamics’ box-moving robot designed for warehouse applications. Stretch will begin unloading containers at 10 facilities next year, with the goal of having all sites operational by the end of 2025.
“The cooperation with Boston Dynamics is another important step for us to position ourselves for the future. We strive for the best service for our customers and an innovative work environment for our employees. Robotics and AI are and will become even more central components of our daily work.”
The Otto Group offers a comprehensive training program to equip staff with the skills to work with robotics and AI, the companies added in announcing the deployment plans. More than 10,000 warehouse and facility workers have participated in the company’s TechUcation virtual training courses so far. This training is supplemented with concrete on-site training, enabling existing job profiles to develop digitally and shape the future together.
“We have learned to adapt quickly and flexibly to new market situations, which makes us strong for the future,” said Schiebur. The Otto Group and Boston Dynamics also plan to collaborate on research and development, including additional future use cases for both Spot and Stretch robots over the next several years.
“As one of Europe’s most innovative and forward-thinking companies, the Otto Group is an excellent fit for our technology. This agreement represents a strategic collaboration that will benefit both our companies for years to come, and we look forward to seeing the value our mobile robots can provide when combined with Otto Group’s deep expertise in logistics and fulfillment.”
Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally active retail and services group with around 41,000 employees in 30 major company groups primarily active in the economic regions of Germany, the rest of Europe, and the USA. U.S consumers are likely most familiar with Crate & Barrel, one of the group’s companies.