Interview

“Our robots are better than Amazon’s”

A German start-up improves warehouse automation.

Magazino has developed a robot to transport objects in warehouses. Frederik Brantner, CEO of this Technical University of Munich spin-off, dis­cusses his strategy for competing with Amazon and Google in the market for warehouse robots.

Technologist: What are the weaknesses of Amazon’s robots?

Frederik Brantner: They can only transport crates or entire shelves and go to a set point. They cannot pick up a single box or objects in varying positions.

T. Can you do it better?

F. B. Our robot, TORU Cube, is fitted with a camera and lasers to detect and pick up specific objects wherever they are on a shelf. It then carries them to their destina­tion in a sort of backpack.

robots start up warehouse amazon toru cube fullwidth - “Our robots are better than Amazon’s”

T. Can TORU Cube be improved?

F. B. Our next robot, TORU Box, will be able to move equipment in factories, such as parts for a car manufacturer. For now, TORU Cube is relatively limited to rectangular objects, such as books and large boxes.

T. What’s your long-term goal?

F. B. Our dream is to design a completely automated production chain, with no human intervention. But we don’t think that would be economic or efficient, as humans will always have certain advantages over robots. We want to develop robots that can interact with humans to help them in the most difficult tasks.

Frederik Brantner (CEO of this Technical University of Munich spin-off)