Daring researches and their interacting bin

At LogiMAT 2017, Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML presented »Emili«, a revolutionary, interactive automated guided vehicle (AGV) for intralogistics, that can be controlled through gestures. It is the size of a small load carrier (slc). With its extendable and retractable undercarriage it puts the human-machine communication to a completely new level – and is therefore a milestone towards a Social Networked Industry.

© Fraunhofer IML
Managing Director of the Institute Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael ten Hompel at the presentation of »Emili« at LogiMAT 2017 on 14 March.
© Fraunhofer IML
»Emili« with founder Jana Jost.

Emili (ergonomic, mobile, interactive load carrier for intralogistics) is the first autonomous AGV that allows an intuitive communication between human and machine. It can be controlled through gestures e.g. waving it nearer or order it away – that way it interacts directly with the people in its environment. This works via wearables, small computer systems carried by each employee for example an intelligent bracelet. These devices help to bring the information of the gestures via radio transmission to Emili. Alternatively, the vehicle can also be controlled by smartphone, tablet or smart glasses.


At the same time, Emili is giving important information about itself: A low power e-ink display at its front allows to gather information about its current status and gives direct feedback by its virtual face. That supports a communication as natural as possible between employee and vehicle – a basic condition for the Social Networked Industry of the future in which people and machines share information on the basis of social networks and communicate with each other. »Soon, it will be totally normal for us to talk to a bin. Emili is the industrial prototype for a future Social Networked Industry in which people work together with intelligent machines like Emili«, emphasises Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML.


Moreover, the interactive AGV serves as a itself. Emili is exactly the size of an slc. It can be easily piled on top of other slc or transport other slc itself. Via an integrated function for lifting and lowering it can retract or lower its undercarriage – the AGV becomes a bin and vice versa. Another lift allows to raise Emili and the stacked slc to an ergonomic working level which is perfect for humans. Thus, is combines the compact design and the simple handling of an slc with the abilities of a modern AGV.


Beside the possibility to pile Emili on top of other slc, its outside dimensions also allow transportation by classic conveyor technology or storage in an automatic small parts warehouse. Moreover, Emili’s modular inner set-up allows an easy modification to different technologies: Its individual