French robotics firm Exotec Solutions has developed a warehouse robot that can climb shelves, doubling the speed with which logistics firms can pick and pack orders.

Skypods scoot around at ground level to find the goods in a particular place, but can then scale up the shelves when it needs to get up high, eliminating the need for humans to use a cherry picker or forklifts.

They can carry up to 30kgs at a time and use lasers to navigate around the warehouse, mapping the space as they go. This also means they don’t collide with each other and can get the job done much faster than alternative robots that physically move the shelves instead of moving themselves to find goods.

“From inception, the system has been designed to ensure fast deployment and full scalability,”says Renaud Heitz, CTO and cofounder. “Skypod’s free navigation allows the robots to travel anywhere within the system, something the competition can’t offer today. The system’s software is powered by the latest artificial intelligence, allowing us to deploy on site within days instead of weeks.”

Each Skypod is charged hourly, so they can operate for 24 hours a day, seven days a week if needed.

One of Exotec’s current clients is French retailer C-discount, which is gearing up to use the robots to fulfil its Christmas orders coming into its Cestas warehouse, near Bordeaux. The company has seven robots working round the clock to pick orders for humans to pack.

“In a manual organization, an operator can travel up to 15 km per day. With our old (two-dimensional) Exo system, the daily distance traveled was 4km .And there, with Skypod, we are at 0km” explained C0discount. “You can create a lot more inventory because it allows you to fill the warehouse to the ceiling.”