The new autonomous electric forklift premiered at the Hannover Messe show in Germany and is equipped with camera and radar systems, and a central ProAI AI-enhanced computer that can make its own decisions.
The ZF Innovation Forklift’s sensors record people or stationary objects. The data is then interpreted in the ZF ProAI central control unit and results in a corresponding command that tells the vehicle to either stop or drive around the obstacle.
Deep learning algorithms help to anticipate the great variety of potential scenarios in high speed and then trigger adequate reactions. In other words, artificial intelligence can help to prevent work accidents and injury to people or material damage. The vehicle can also prioritise orders itself and thus make decisions regarding the optimal sequence and route.
In addition, ZF has developed ZF Cloud, an open, scalable IoT platform that can be flexibly used across many industries. Cloud-based dynamic fleet management allows the data from the individual forklift trucks to be efficiently managed and analysed. The system takes into account, for example, the current battery charge status during all driving operations and schedules the recharge time at which the forklift truck should independently head towards the charging station.
This fleet management works in tandem with ZF’s electric drive unit, which is supplied as a system solution and has streamlined the forklift truck’s energy management so that it can hold a battery charge for at least one shift. This means that operators do not need many replacement batteries on-site, reducing costs and complexity.
ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider said, “The highly automated ZF Innovation Forklift is the result of bundled know-how to create a unique and comprehensive solution that essentially embraces the main requirements of the industry: reducing costs and making materials handling processes far more efficient.”