Telexistence to Begin Proof of Concept to Introduce Its New Robot into Logistics Facilities; Partnership with Nichirei Logistics and SENKO

Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter TX) , Nichirei Logistics Group, Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Kazushiko Umezawa; hereafter Nichirei Logistics), and SENKO Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Kita-ku, Osaka; President: Yasuhisa Fukuda; hereafter SENKO) jointly started a proof of concept for the introduction of TX robot to the logistics facilities of Nichirei Logistics and SENKO, with the aim of developing new logistics operations centered on hybrid control robot technology that combines automatic control by TX’s proprietary AI system with remote control by operators.

Video: Demonstration of the TX robot at the Logistics Network Higashi Ogishima Distribution Center, taken on March 1, 2022

As a first step, a demonstration was conducted today in the refrigerated area of a Nichirei Logistics distribution facility, where TX’s remote-controlled robot performed mixed loading onto a basket cart. In addition, a demonstration test is scheduled for the fall of 2022 at SENKO’s logistics facility for a major retailer network.

TX robot for logistics facilities consists of a collaborative robot arm, an AGV (Autonomous Guided Vehicle), an end-effector, and a remote-control system (*1). General palletizing/de-palletizing robots require anchoring to the floor, which limits the robot’s operating location or requires additional material handling equipment to the process before or after the robot’s work. On the other hand, TX robot is equipped with an AGV and a remote-control system, and all power is supplied from the AGV’s built-in battery, so they can be operated in different locations or can perform tasks that require movement. Also, the remote-control operator visually checks the object to grasp and the stacking location. This allows for optimal grasping and placement according to case size. Even when complex tasks are required, such as cold-covered basket carts, the robot can perform mixed stacking while maintaining optimal loading efficiency.
(*1) Collaborative robot arms and AGVs are manufactured by third-party manufactures.

TX aims to leverage its Augmented Workforce Platform (AWP) (*2) to verify the improvement of the working environment and productivity in the logistics industry, where labor costs are soaring and chronic labor shortages are becoming more serious, by having the robot replace the work in refrigerated areas that place a heavy burden on human body.  Solving labor issues in the logistics industry through AWP is an initiative consistent with TX’s corporate mission of liberating workers from all physical labor tasks. TX will continue working toward full-scale implementation of its robots into logistics facilities.
(*2) a platform that enables robot control with an optimal mixture of remote-control and automated control by AI

Nichirei Logistics focuses on operational innovation to address labor shortages, reduce the burden on workers, and make on-site work “doable by anyone,” and is building an optimal work system that takes advantage of the characteristics of both humans and machines. In this PoC, robots placed in the refrigerated area will be remote-controlled by operators from the office to verify the possibility of remote work and construction of a stress-free work environment in distribution center operations. Nichirei Logistics will continue to actively promote the introduction of cutting-edge technologies and the digitization of operations to realize sustainable logistics that support our customers’ supply chains.

SENKO introduced a depalletizing arm robot in 2014 and has since been actively introducing AGVs and other labor-saving equipment. The most important feature of TX robot is its mobility. Unlike conventional robots that are difficult to move once installed, TX robot can move according to the convenience of the business, dramatically increasing the operating time of the robot. Also, the constant monitoring by operators via remote-control system will enable quick response to problems. In addition, resolving labor shortages in warehouse operations is an urgent issue. SENKO aims to reduce burdensome manual loading and unloading tasks especially during summer by introducing robots, while at the same time providing people with a work-life balance and a way of working that is not limited by time or location.

■ Outline of Proof of Concept by Nichirei Logistics and TX
1. Date                 : March 4, 2022
2. Location            : Logistics Network Inc. Higashi-Ogishima Distribution Center (100% subsidiary of Nichirei Logistics)

Press Kit:TX Press Kit 2022.03.04 Logistics PoC

< Nichirei Logistics Group Inc.>(https://www.nichirei-logi.co.jp/)
Nichirei Logistics Group Inc. consists of a logistics network business centered on transportation and delivery, TC, and 3PL; a regional storage business that handles refrigerated warehouse functions; overseas operations in Europe, China, and ASEAN countries; and an engineering business that handles everything from planning, design, and construction to maintenance management of refrigerated facilities. It is a No. 1 low-temperature logistics company group in Japan. Our goal is to spread the high-quality low-temperature logistics we have cultivated as a global standard.
Address:                        6-19-20 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Representative:              Kazuhiko Umezawa, President
Date of Inception:           April 1, 2005

<SENKO Co., Ltd.>(https://www.senko.co.jp/jp/)
SENKO Co., Ltd. offers a wide range of services, including rail &  marine transportation, warehousing, in-plant logistics, and international logistics, with nationwide network car transportation at its core. We support our customers in building SCM with logistics systems that make full use of the latest IT, including comprehensive services at distribution centers with multiple functions such as storage, delivery, distribution processing, and information distribution, as well as the design and operation of optimal systems that lead to efficiency in logistics.
Address:                        1-1-30 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka City
Representative:              Yasuhisa Fukuda, President
Date of Inception:          April 15, 2016

Telexistence develops a new robot TX SCARA and installs it at FamilyMart METI Store. Automating backyard beverage stocking operations with a proprietary AI system.

Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter TX) and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Kensuke Hosomi; hereafter FamilyMart) introduced a new robot TX SCARA equipped with TX’s proprietary AI system Gordon to the “FamilyMart METI store” to perform beverage replenishment work in the backyard 24 hours a day in place of human workers, thereby automating high-volume work in a low-temperature environment where the physical load on store staff is significant.

TX SCARA is a self-developed SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) robot that can operate in a small space in a store’s backyard.  It is automatically controlled by Gordon during normal operation. In the event of a restocking failure, the robot can be switched to Telexistence mode, which allows an operator to control the robot remotely through the Internet for quick recovery. In addition, “Gordon” learns from the store’s past sales data to optimize the replenishment timing according to product sales trends that change with time of day and season. Through the use of robotics and AI technology, robots will take over the task of restocking about 1,000 beverages a day, 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, store staff will be able to stay in the shop floor to perform higher value-added tasks such as customer service.

[Main Technical Features]

  • TX SCARA: A self-developed robot with optimized joint axis configuration and link length for beverage replenishment in the convenience store backyards. The hardware can be installed without changing the backyard environment of existing stores.
  • Gordon: TX’s proprietary AI system that uses a self-scanning module to recognize the product availability on the shelf. It also calculates the beverage gripping point and generates a path plan for the end-effector from gripping to placing.
  • Telexistence Mode: When the automatic restocking fails due to unexpected environmental changes, the system shifts from Gordon mode (automatic control mode) to Telexistence mode. The restocking operation can be completed 100% by remotely controlling the robot via the Internet. The so-called “The Frame Problem” of AI (see note) and the imperfections of artificial intelligence are supplemented by TX’s teleoperation technology.

The Frame Problem: When solving a given task, the current artificial intelligence extracts only the information necessary for the current decision or action from the countless events that can occur in the real world, and ignores the other information in its attempts. The problem is, however, that it cannot autonomously determine what information is necessary for itself and what information it can ignore, and thus the extraction process takes infinite time.

Through the operation of the FamilyMart METI Store, FamilyMart and TX will automate and remoteize  shelr restocking work, which requires a large amount of man-hours and places a heavy burden on humans. It will enable a new store operation where store staff can work via robots from anywhere, safely, as long as there is Internet access. At the same time, TX and FamilyMart will continue to build an environment that is easy to introduce robots (a robot-friendly environment), thereby accelerating the improvement of productivity, non-contact, and customer convenience.

This initiative is also part of the “Task Force to Promote the Construction of Robot Implementation Models” led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, in which FamilyMart participates since November 2019, aiming to reduce the number of workers in stores and build a new store operation infrastructure using robots.

Based on the concept of “FamilyMart, Where You Are One of the Family,” FamilyMart aims to be an indispensable place that goes beyond convenience, while staying close to the community and connecting with each customer like a family member.

TX is a robotics company that develops remote controlled robots with artificial intelligence, with the mission to change robots, change the structure, and change the world. Gathered by high expertise professionals from all over the world, the engineering team consistently develops robotic hardware, software and AI technology in-house. TX aims to expand the scope of robotics activities beyond the factory floor and transform the fundamental nature of labor society.

■Store Information
Name: Family Mart METI Store
Address: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Building, 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Store Hours: 7:00 〜 24:00

Press Kit for News Organizations

Telexistence raises $20M (22-oku JPY) in Series A2 round of funding. Pioneering an Augmented Workforce Platform with Aims to Transform Retail and Logistics Industries; Expanding Product Development Team

2021/6/16

Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter “TX”), a leading innovator of remote-controlled robots with artificial intelligence, raised approximately $20M in a Series A2 funding round with multiple investors, led by a group company of Monoful Inc (hereafter “Monoful”).

Telexistence, Remote-Controlled Robotics Innovator – Engineering Team Interview
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Remote-Controlled Robotics Innovator Telexistence to Introduce Semi-Autonomous Robot Across FamilyMart Chain; Partnership in Collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to Launch in October 2021

2021/6/4

In October 2021, Telexistence, Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka) and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Kensuke Hosomi) will begin introducing Telexistence’s semi-autonomous remote-controlled robot and its Augmented Workforce Platform throughout FamilyMart retail stores, advancing FamilyMart’s operational infrastructure through groundbreaking remote-controlled robotic technology.

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CNBC Documentary “Japan: Powering Tomorrow”

2020/12/29

TX was featured in Japan: Powering Tomorrow, a two-part documentary series, explores how the country is tackling challenges head-on through innovation and technology. From its world-renowned advances in MedTech and revolutionary developments in robotics and AI, we meet Japan’s bright thinkers who are breaking new ground to overcome the immediate impact of COVID-19, whilst also working to transform and advance our lives in a post-pandemic future. Watch the streaming on CNBC online: https://www.cnbc.com/advertorial/japan-powering-tomorrow/

Wall Street Journal: Remote Work Isn’t Just for White-Collar Jobs Anymore

2020/10/22

On the ground floor of a towering office building overlooking Tokyo Bay, in a space intended to resemble the interior of a moon base, a convenience store is tended by a humanoid robot.

This robot isn’t out front, wowing customers. No, it is in the back, doing the unglamorous job of keeping shelves stocked. It has broad shoulders, wide eyes, a boomerang-shaped head and strange hands, capable of grabbing objects with both suction and a trio of opposable thumbs.

Read More on WSJ Online: https://www.wsj.com/articles/remote-work-isnt-just-for-white-collar-jobs-anymore-11603371826

BBC NEWS: The robot shop worker controlled by a faraway human

2020/10/26

In a quiet aisle of a small supermarket in Tokyo, a robot dutifully goes about its work. Reaching down, it grabs yet another bottle of a flavoured drink that humans like, lifts it and places it on the shelf of a refrigerated unit. Then the next one. People come and go.

Read More on BBC News Online: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54232563

CNN Business: Seven-foot robots are stacking shelves in Tokyo convenience stores

2020/9/15

Japan has the oldest population in the world, and that’s causing an acute labor shortage. With almost a third of the population aged 65 and above, finding workers can be a challenge. Increasingly, companies are turning to technology as a solution — including two of the biggest convenience store franchises in Japan, FamilyMart and Lawson.

Read More on CNN Online: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/14/business/robots-japan-supermarkets-spc-intl/index.html

Telexistence Begins the Trial Operation of its Remote Controlled Robot, Model-T, at a FamilyMart Store. Aims to Realize a New Labor-Saving Store Operation Platform

2020/08/26

FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Takashi Sawada; hereafter FamilyMart) and Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter “TX”) started trial operations of the TX robot Model-T and Augmented Workforce Platform (hereafter “AWP”) to build a new store operation model using remote control robot technology.

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Telexistence Announces Appointment of Yutaka Matsuo, Professor at The University of Tokyo, as the AI Technology Advisor

2020/08/24

Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter “TX”) today announced the appointment of Yutaka Matsuo, Professor at Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, as the AI Technology Advisor.  

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