Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas, Phantom Auto Partner to Scale Up Remote Operations of Unmanned Forklifts

The partners say keeping a human in the loop will add flexibility, safety, and efficiency to operations.

Phantom Auto

Phantom Auto UniCarriers forklift

Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas Inc. today announced that it has partnered with Phantom Auto to enable operators who are sitting up to thousands of miles away to remotely operate unmanned tuggers, pallet jacks, and other equipment. The companies said their joint offering can improve worker safety, supply chain resilience, and enterprise agility.

“Remote operation unlocks amazing operational efficiencies for our customers,” said Brian Markison, senior director of automated guided vehicle (AGV) sales at Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas (Marengo). “Our partnership with Phantom enables them to achieve unprecedented oversight and control over their material handling equipment, even with the vehicle operators located states or continents away.”

Founded in 2017 by a team of real-time communication and robotics experts, Phantom Auto specializes in remote operation of all types of unmanned vehicles and has customers around the world. The South San Francisco-based company said its system enables people to remotely monitor, assist, and operate fleets of vehicles from up to thousands of miles away.

Phanton Auto added that its proprietary software can deliver secure, low-latency communication over volatile wireless networks for reliable sensor streaming and safe control of vehicle functions.

Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas offers materials handling systems, scalable automation, and fleet support. The Houston-based group's portfolio spans five brands – Mitsubishi forklift trucks, Cat lift trucks, Rocla AGV Solutions, UniCarriers Forklifts, and Jungheinrich warehouse and automation products. All products are backed by an extensive dealer network for customer service and product support.

Remote ops enable supply chain flexibility

Worker safety, availability, and retention are top of mind for every supply chain leader, especially amidst the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mitsubishi.

According to a recent report from Gartner, 87% of chief supply chain officers say they are planning to invest in resilience and agility over the next two years. Remote operation fuels enterprise-wide resilience, agility, and safety by allowing drivers to efficiently work across multiple disparate sites, said Mitsubishi, all with the click of a button and from the comfort of a distant office or even from their homes.

Furthermore, remote operation is a necessary complement to AGVs and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), helping to address edge cases that prevent robotics from scaling. With a remote human-in-the-loop approach, end users can confidently scale up unmanned autonomous operations without compromising on operational uptime, throughput, and safety, Mitsubishi claimed.

It added that its tele-operation technology can help improve operator safety and health, reduce downtime, and unlock multi-site efficiencies by “teleporting” flex staff on-demand. Customers will be able to remotely monitor and manage multiple vehicles and robots simultaneously, maximizing their workforce.

Phantom will integrate its software across specific types of electric-powered forklifts from Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas' UniCarriers and Mitsubishi brands.

Phantom's vehicle-agnostic software has also been integrated with other material handling OEMs, along with manufacturers of trucks, robots, cars, and more. Backed by Bessemer Venture Partners and other leading investors, the company is rapidly expanding across the logistics and manufacturing industries and is powering use cases as broad as material handling, yard operations, and last-mile delivery.

“Over the past several years, we've proven repeatedly that remote operation is transformational for logistics operators,” stated Shai Magzimof, co-founder and CEO of Phantom Auto. “Phantom is helping customers scale unmanned operations sooner while enabling the next frontier of remote work.”

“Our partnership with Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas is a significant milestone in our mission to unlock greater safety, productivity, and operational resilience across the supply chain,” said Elliot Katz, co-founder and chief business officer of Phantom Auto.

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Phantom Auto

Phantom Auto UniCarriers forklift

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