Cyngn Inc. today announced an agreement with wood products supplier Arauco to deploy an initial 100 autonomous electric forklifts. The DriveMod-enabled systems will help make Arauco's operations more efficient, said the company.
“Arauco has a large forklift fleet and an even larger vehicle fleet,” noted Ben Landen, vice president of business development at Cyngn. “It does so many moves with forklifts—particularly difficult and heavy moves—that we want to reach a world where no human has to be in proximity of a working forklift.”
“Typically, our best customers fall into the challenges of labor shortages, the cost of labor, or safety, and Arauco hit all three,” he told Robotics 24/7. “Its use case was fairly difficult, and we didn't expect to take on forklifts as soon as we did, but it's the most successful execution we've seen at our company so far.”
“We are looking forward to implementing Cyngn’s self-driving forklifts that lift goods without human assistance into our fleet of material handling equipment,” said Pablo Franzini, vice president of the wood business at Arauco, in a statement. “These vehicles will help us continue our commitment to creating a safe, zero-injury work environment where we can efficiently streamline our operations and optimize performance.”
Arauco searched for the right partner
Las Condes, Chile-based Arauco supplies forestry products, paper pulp, and engineered wood to the furniture and construction industries. It had more than $7 billion in revenue in 2022. The company said it provides high-quality wood products to global furniture brands, including IKEA and Sauder Woodworking.
By making its fleet of forklifts autonomous and electric, Arauco will achieve its environmental sustainability goals while maximizing operational productivity, efficiency, and safety, said the companies. However, Arauco first had to find the right partner for the automation it wanted.
“When Arauco looked at automation solutions from existing partners, nobody served its use case, and so it ran its own RFQ [request for quotes],” recalled Landen. “We went through a non-trivial process that took several months.”
“Working with a global powerhouse like Arauco is a testament to the transformative power of autonomous technology in the industrial sector,” stated Lior Tal, CEO of Cyngn. “We are proud and excited to be named the exclusive forklift automation provider for Arauco and to assist them in their pursuit of sustainability, safety, and operational excellence.”
“By combining our expertise in computer vision and AI algorithms, we are confident in delivering the performance and utility required for their operations with our DriveMod autonomous forklifts,” he said.
Cyngn plans for DriveMod growth
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Cyngn said its DriveMod kit can be installed on new industrial vehicles at the end of line or via retrofit. This makes self-driving technology available without high upfront costs or the need to completely replace existing assets, it noted.
DriveMod is part of Cyngn's Enterprise Autonomy Suite. It also includes the Cyngn Insight suite of fleet management, teleoperation, and analytics tools, and the Cyngn Evolve internal toolkit for AI, simulation, and modeling. About 65% of the company's staff is dedicated to engineering, said Landen.
The contract for 100 autonomous forklifts builds upon a previously announced partnership with Arauco. The global building materials manufacturer's initial order is only a small portion of its existing fleet but represents a multi-million annual recurring revenue deployment for Cyngn, demonstrating the potential for growth, said the companies.
In addition, Arauco's paid, non-refundable order marks “a significant milestone” in the launch of DriveMod, which was first announced in June, said Cyngn. The company's OEM partners include BYD, Columbia, and Motrec, and Ouster provides digital lidar technology.
“People are still discovering how our tools can make operations more efficient—they're not just replacing human workers,” said Landen. “What makes us special is our ability to adapt our autonomy tech to different technology types, different OEMs, and different industries.”
Landen said Cyngn is aiming to begin deliveries to customers in 2024. Cyngn and Arauco said they plan to jointly expand DriveMod across sites and use cases, further increasing Arauco’s autonomous fleet in the coming years.
Cyngn said it has made significant progress adapting our AI-powered DriveMod to BYD forklifts.
About the Author
Eugene DemaitreEugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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Cyngn has provided autonomous capabilities to BYD electric forklifts.