Fully Autonomous Material Handling

MoveIt leveraged to co-develop a flexible and fast picking platform.


A major automotive corporation’s R&D lab is an emerging technologies incubator for their advanced logistics needs. They bring new innovations to the market for its internal needs, its subsidiaries, and customers. They believe in delivering world-class distribution and production solutions.

This company is developing the next generation of fully autonomous warehouse management systems, using a shuttle-based arm picking approach.


While the R&D lab has an abundance of experience with traditional industrial material handling, they needed a cutting edge robotics manipulation solution capable of performing a variety of technically risky tasks. For example, they were attempting to build industrial grade online obstacle avoidance software for robotic bin picking on an accelerated development schedule.

The R&D lab’s talented roboticists kept being pulled onto other internal R&D efforts. As a result, they weren’t going to deliver the new pick and place system to meet internal business goals. They needed a trusted partner to accelerate development.

They wanted a trusted partner to help accelerate the development of their new pick and place system to meet internal business goals. They wanted experts that could help shape the open source solutions available into a platform they could build on top of.


The corporate R&D lab identified MoveIt, an open source manipulation framework, as an ideal platform due to its flexibility to be quickly applied to any robot and its collision aware planning capability. They then reached out to PickNik to quickly support them in developing their pick and place pipeline. PickNik’s flexible engineering services allowed them to benefit from a variety of domain expertises. Open source libraries were leveraged to improve the manipulation platform’s capabilities, including the MoveIt Task Constructor.

“PickNik’s partnership with us is hugely instrumental in making these systems successful.”
-Chief Innovation Officer


Building off of MoveIt, and partnering with PickNik, the company has kept their advanced pick and place platform on track to graduate from the R&D group and become a full product. A 12 month robotics development roadmap with monthly milestones was developed and executed in a close collaboration between engineers at PickNik and the R&D lab’s group.

The new solution is highly reconfigurable and agnostic to types of robot arms and grippers. Greater fault tolerance was achieved, and the cycle time was reduced to be less than 4 seconds. As a result, the R&D group has been able to de-risk a critical capability for the corporation’s automation needs.