Cybernet’s Autonomous Material Handling Technology (AMHT) was the star of a hosted demonstration of autonomous, self-driving vehicles for warehouse workers with Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. Cybernet was on-site for the event.
Warehouse operations are one of the many examples of behind-the-scenes support activities that make the Navy/Marine Corps mission possible. Like many support activities, they rarely get due recognition for keeping military forces in a mission-ready state. Often, they are taken for granted unless something happens that hurts their efficiency or completely stops them from working.
In improving this crucial support function, Cybernet has committed its focus to developing unmanned and autonomous vehicle technology since its formation in the late 1980s. Since 2007, Cybernet has been developing AMHT appliqué kit, which can automate a wide range of vehicles, including warehouse forklifts, large container handlers, and small pallet transport vehicles. Cybernet designed the AMHT to be a flexible implementation that understands its operating environment and reacts much as a human operator would.
“The Cybernet team integrated the forklift and tug into their facility by creating a map of the area, programming road rules that dictate where it can’t drive, and prepping the vehicle to work in that particular environment,” said Glenn Beach, Cybernet’s president and CEO. “We ran tests of the AMHT accomplishing the mission, which is autonomous retrieval and delivery. The forklift took pallets out of their warehouse, put the pallets on the autonomous tug, and the tug drove elsewhere on the base. Later, we unloaded the tug and put the material back on the shelves.”
Beach said the main objectives of the demonstration were for the Cybernet team to highlight AMHT technology to stakeholders at the FRCE and show them how autonomy could be used at their worksite. Additionally, Cybernet educated the FRCE workforce to stimulate ideas on how they could take advantage of the technology to improve operations.
The AMHT kit has previously added value in warehouse sites by reducing overall labor costs, improving worker safety, and mitigating product damage, among other benefits.
Cybernet is actively preparing to expand the AMHT program in its commercial interests and is working with the Navy to further determine its utility at other FRCs and shipyards, as well as the Army and a major automotive partner.
Beach said Cybernet is already making upgrades to AMHT technology through improvements in object recognition, stand-alone safety systems, and lower-cost sensor integration.
“The goal of Cybernet’s AMHT program is to bring technology to other depots and facilities (such as FRCs and shipyards) to make logistics, sustainment and maintenance operations more efficient and effective,” Beach said. “It’s important to all programs, for example, even the F-35 and helicopters programs have requirements for how they are handled and transported. The idea is to support the people who support the programs.”