DHL Innovation Challenge tackles robotics, the sharing economy

DHL’s second Innovation Challenges are up and running, this time soliciting ideas for two logistics-related challenges – robotics, and the sharing economy. The contest builds on last year’s robotics, and green solutions challenge, with the winners taking home a grand prize of €15,000, as DHL seeks to resolve impediments to growth in the logistics sector.

Contestants in this year’s challenge are invited to take part in either of two tracks: Develop a prototype of a mobile piece-picking robot or come up with a solution to a logistics problem using a “sharing economy business model, platform or concept.”

In the piece-picking track, the robot must navigate a traditional warehouse rack system and autonomously pick items and place them into a cart. Further requirements are the ability to move at a human walking speed, and autonomously steer fully loaded carts back to a packing area.DHL Innovation Challenge tackles robotics, the sharing economy

“We estimate that the implementation of robotics will be the norm in the industry within less than five years,” said Matthias Heutger, senior vice president of strategy, marketing and innovation at DHL’s Customer Solutions and Innovation department. Heutger said that increased robotics in warehouses would facilitate pick and pack processes, while reducing physical strain and risk.

The second track is DHL’s sharing economy challenge, to “rethinking access and ownership to create logistics solutions.”

The task challenges contestants to rethink asset ownership and access, DHL said. Diffusing access to logistics assets is increasingly regarded as a solution to low capacity rates and underutilization. Already, third-party platforms are booking and moving freight exclusively on un-owned assets. The DHL Innovation Challenge seeks to develop this model further.

“As digital technology continues to drive down transaction costs and increase transparency, we believe that there is virtually no limit to what these models can be applied to,” said Markus Kückelhaus, vice president innovation and trend research, DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation. “We aim to create a shared value, fully utilizing resources to turn logistics assets into sustainable, fair and potentially profitable services for consumers and businesses.”

The deadline for submissions is 16th September 2017 at 5 pm GMT. More information can be found at

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DHL Innovation Challenge tackles robotics, the sharing economy