Robotic delivery and drone delivery are finally starting to get their moment. From Santa Monica, California, to Dallas to North Carolina, driverless robot and drone pilots have been popping up all over the U.S. in recent months.
While autonomous vehicles have become an increasingly common sight on America’s streets and in the skies, they’ve also begun to weave their way into the warehouse space. But in the latter setting they aren’t being used for deliveries.
Contract logistics provider GXO Logistics (NYSE: GXO) thinks it can dominate the growing warehouse robot and drone space. On Wednesday, the XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO) spinoff announced plans to build the world’s largest fleet of air- and ground-based warehouse security robots.
Already, GXO has completed more than 12,000 safety missions at its Clayton, Indiana, facility using technology from robot and drone security provider Asylon. The company expects its deployment of Asylon’s ground-based DroneDog and air-based DroneSentry systems to “significantly increase” within the next year.
So far, GXO has used Asylon’s tech to collect real-time data about on-site activities, investigate and clear alarms, conduct video-verified security audits, and more. Once an issue is identified, the system simultaneously reports it to the security team. That lets warehouse associates get ahead of potential problems.
“We launched the DroneDog and DroneSentry advanced security system at a customer’s facility that is more than 1 million square feet and requires a 24/7 security presence to safeguard our people and the products,” said Thomas Nelson, senior director of security at GXO. “The combination of air and ground robotics gives us superb live video feed, including infrared vision for nighttime patrols, that we can operate, evaluate and respond to in real time.”
Both DroneDog and DroneSentry are integrated with Asylon’s DroneCore security platform. Through a wireless cloud connection, associates can monitor and control the vehicles, but they’re also capable of operating on their own.
The DroneDog system features a security payload, which encrypts and authenticates data, and a weatherized charging station playfully named DogHouse. The DroneDog itself (pictured above, right) is an agile mobile robot from Boston Dynamics that can traverse uneven terrain, detect and avoid obstacles, and even climb stairs.
DroneDog works in concert with the DroneSentry system, which features its own weatherized charging, landing and autonomous battery swapping station, DroneHouse. According to GXO, the drones patrol five times faster than a security officer. And at a 200-foot altitude, they can see 10 times the area that a guard can see at eye level.
Together, the drones and ground-based robots cover more area in less time than a traditional surveillance system. In fact, the combined system lets GXO place a security camera with 20x optical zoom anywhere in a facility at a moment’s notice, 24 hours a day.
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As part of the partnership, Asylon is also supplying experts from its control center in Pennsylvania. They provide analysis on real-time security data and are able to remotely operate both the air- and ground-based portions of DroneCore.
“DroneCore is a first-of-its-kind air and ground security robotics platform and is a perfect fit for the security and safety needs at GXO’s sites,” said Michael Quiroga, chief revenue officer of Asylon. “And, while the technology has been proving itself as an effective deter-and-detect system, we’re equally excited to partner with GXO to open upskilling opportunities and create new jobs as part of our goal to help build the workforce of the future.”
So far, DroneDog robots have logged more than 600 miles on patrol at GXO’s Clayton facility since 2020. DroneSentry, which GXO indicated has been launched at multiple facilities, has completed more than 12,000 missions over the same period.