Swarm of small transportation vehicles carries 40 tons

Many separately driven vehicles are connected by radio and equipped with cameras for self-coordination and synchronous acting. Photo: Markus Breig, KIT

Spinoff of KIT facilitates moves and replacements of production plants.

Old production machinery has to be replaced due to changed requirements. However, high weight and limited space in plants often make it very difficult to assemble and disassemble big machines or to reposition them. Frequently, this is done by hand using heavy-duty rollers. FORMIC Transportsysteme, a spinoff of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), has developed a semi-automatic transportation system for the replacement of production plants, which works like a swarm.

“Our system consists of several separately driven vehicles. Together, they can lift a weight of up to 40 tons and move it semi-automatically,” says Dr. Maximilian Hochstein from KIT’s Institute for Materials Handling and Logistics (IFL). For the transportation of heavy loads, up to 15 vehicles can be coupled. “They are connected by radio and equipped with cameras for self-coordination and synchronous acting,” Hochstein says.

Joystick Control

“Machines and goods of various dimensions and weights can be lifted comfortably by a single person and moved remotely,” says Dr. Benedikt Klee from KIT’s wbk Institute of Production Science. Although joystick control works manually, commands are then obeyed automatically. “The load is lifted from the ground and then moved flexibly,” Klee says. “For transporting a typical production machine in manufacturing industries, three vehicles are sufficient.”

Triple Innovation: Concept, Mechanics, and Software

Tommi Kivelä, IFL, points out that the innovations consist in the swarm concept, the mechanics of the individual vehicles, and the control software. Theoretically, more than 15 vehicles may be connected to transport even heavier loads. “However, the swarm size is still limited by safety control.”

The founders of FORMIC consider their potential customers to be movers of facilities and machines and companies offering internal plant layout changes and machine transports. They also address manufacturers of big machine tools, as the vehicles enable continuous production of heaviest machines.

FORMIC is supported by an EXIST startup grant, a funding program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection to fund startups from science, and by the KIT Founders Forge.

Video “Swarm solution for load transportation” (in German): https://media.bibliothek.kit.edu/world/2023/DIVA-2023-190_mp4.mp4

Footage “Swarm solution for load transportation“ (without insertions): https://media.bibliothek.kit.edu/world/2023/DIVA-2023-192_mp4.mp4

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

Media Contact

Monika Landgraf
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Office: 721-608-41105

Media Contact

Monika Landgraf
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

All latest news from the category: Transportation and Logistics

This field deals with all spatial and time-related activities involved in bridging the gap between goods and people, including their restructuring. This begins with the supplier and follows each stage of the operational value chain to product delivery and concludes with product disposal and recycling.

innovations-report provides informative reports and articles on such topics as traffic telematics, toll collection, traffic management systems, route planning, high-speed rail (Transrapid), traffic infrastructures, air safety, transport technologies, transport logistics, production logistics and mobility.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Detecting pathogens faster and more accurately by melting DNA

A new analysis method can detect pathogens in blood samples faster and more accurately than blood cultures, which are the current state of the art for infection diagnosis. The new…

Black hole at center of the Milky Way resembles a football

Researchers revealed that the black hole’s spinning speed could provide an ‘incredibly powerful kick’ to surrounding matter. The supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way is spinning…

High resolution techniques reveal clues in 3.5 billion-year-old biomass

Research team analyses organic material from the early Earth tracing its origin and composition. To learn about the first organisms on our planet, researchers have to analyse the rocks of…

Partners & Sponsors