Cypher Robotics and Captis a hit at #MODEX2024

Cypher Robotics and Captis a hit at #MODEX2024

Just over a week ago, Cypher Robotics took the wraps off its Captis system at #MODEX2024 in Atlanta – one of the world’s leading supply chain automation conferences.

Captis is an innovative new cycle counting solution that combines an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) with a tethered drone. As the AMR navigates down even-narrow aisles, a drone takes off from its nest atop the robot and scans the product. Data is uploaded directly to existing Warehouse Management System (WMS), WCS (Warehouse Control System) and WES (Warehouse Execution System) software. Ample power storage in Captis means autonomous missions can last up to five hours before the system returns to base for a wireless recharge. In addition to this key feature, Captis can also:

  • Autonomously carry out 2D and 3D precision scans for digital twins
  • Scan RFID-tagged items
  • Avoid people and obstacles


The Automation Revolution

 The premiere of Captis took place during an era when many in the global supply chain are looking toward robotics and other automation technologies for greater efficiencies. Manual scanning is prone to human error and isn’t very satisfying work. And the COVID19 pandemic showed us we can’t always rely on human beings to be able to carry out the job. Plus, there’s been a plethora of new developments in the worlds of AI and machine learning, leading to smarter and more capable solutions.

“MODEX is getting more and more technical,” says InDro Vice President Peter King. InDro has invested in Cypher Robotics, and helped incubate the Captis system technologies.

“More and more robotic solutions are taking over that show. Alternatives to the traditional methods of supply chain operations are growing fast. Increasingly, companies are interested in automated ways of loading and unloading trucks, picking and placing objects, bringing inventory into the warehouse – and cycle counting.”

That’s why Cypher Robotics – and Captis – attended MODEX2024.

Below: InDro’s Head of Strategic Initiatives, Stacey Connors, looking justifiably happy at MODEX2024:

Stacey Connors CAPTIS MODEX

The Solution

There are a growing number of cycle counting solutions now available. Some still involve hand-held Zebra scanners, which are prone to human error and put people at risk on modified forklifts or other elevated platforms. Others involve setting up multiple ground control reference points, or infrastructure changes to the facility itself. Drone-only solutions are constrained by limited flight times (typically 10-25 minutes) before the drone has to return to a dock and recharge.

Cypher Robotics spent a long time assessing existing solutions before starting to plan an entirely new one for Captis. The system would need to eliminate the pain points referenced above, and offer a seamless, hands-off approach that would allow the AMR to explore and understand its own environment. Because some of the warehouses Captis is meant to operate in are *really* big, it was also crucial to build in industry-leading run times.

Cypher Robotics meticulously followed the ladder up the Technology Readiness Level scale, including simulations. But we knew it had to be proven in a demanding, real-world environment before it would ready for a Prime Time launch. We partnered with a massive Canadian company that has multiple warehouses and more than 300 retail locations across the country. We spent months in their warehouses to perfect the system. An announcement revealing the household name of this retail powerhouse as a core partner and anchor client will be coming soon.


Other Partners

Cypher is particularly pleased to have formed partnerships with global telco innovator Ericsson and AI-driven fulfilment experts GreyOrange. The latter provides what you might call the central brain for Captis – the solution that takes all of that realtime data and gets it into the warehouse software. Testing indicates the integrated system has 99.9 per cent accuracy when it comes to cycle counting and data transfer. GreyOrange is a big name in this sector, and their eagerness to partner with Cypher Robotics was validation that we had, indeed, created something special.

The other partner is Ericsson. The Captis system uses 5G networks for dense data throughput, wirelessly transmitting data collected by the system directly into existing warehouse management software. Ericsson also has the ability to set up private and highly secure 5G systems within these large warehouses, ensuring the highest level of data protection from an attempted incursions or hacking. Your data is accurate – and safe.

Below: How the Cypher Robotics Captis system works:

Cypher Captis

High bins? No problem!

The Captis system, as noted, includes a highly integrated tethered drone. That tether supplies the drone with the power, and also takes realtime data back to the base as its scans product.

While the ARM makes its way down the aisles, the drone ascends to the optimal elevation level for scanning product on each shelf, one-at-a-time. It can scan products up to 40 feet off the ground.

The ARM has been calibrated to roam those aisles at the optimal speed to ensure accurate drone scanning and maximum efficiency. The system doesn’t get distracted, doesn’t require coffee breaks – and works non-stop until its five-hour run-time is complete and Captis returns to its wireless charging base. When that charging is done, it can pick up precisely where it left off.

Its additional precision scanning capabilities – the ability to create perfect digital twins with a highly dense point cloud – is a huge bonus for most large operations. Captis can create and update those 2D and 3D files as it goes about cycle counting, or can be directed to capture other areas in a facility, such as a showroom. Whether you’re planning to replicate an existing physical building (very common in this space), or simply capture the stock on a showroom floor to analyse and optimise the customer journey, Captis does it all.

It took a significant amount of engineering to create something with all of these capabilities. Like any new solution, there were multiple technical challenges along the way that had to be addressed. But, operating with both simulators and spending months in massive warehouses did the trick. Day by day, tweaking code and electronics, we enhanced and perfected Captis until we arrived at the solution revealed at MODEX.

We were hopeful it would be well-received.

But the level of interest? It honestly blew us away.

Below: Crowds line up to talk about Captis at #MODEX2024. You can just make out the back of InDro Vice President Peter King’s head, just beside the Captis system. Peter said crowds were like this for two solid days of the conference.

Peter Captis MODEX

The Reaction

Conferences can always be kind of a crapshoot. Sometimes the floor location isn’t the best for foot traffic. Or perhaps another company has an incredible display or product that seems to generate all the buzz. Quite simply, you can never know for certain how it’s going to go until you get these.

But, as the photo above indicates, Cypher Robotics garnered plenty of attention throughout the conference. That’s partly because, to the best of our knowledge, we are the only North American company to have developed and manufactured an integrated drone/AMR cycle counting and precision scanning solution. What’s more, it’s also capable of the RFID scanning and digital twins mentioned earlier. It’s a hands-off, all-in-one system that works.

And the excitement it generated? It was palpable. InDro VP Peter King has attended more conferences than he’d likely care to remember over the years. And this one? It brought the most interest he’s ever seen at a product launch.

“Captis really blew it out of the water,” says King.

“It was the Belle of the Ball,” adds Connors.


Two Displays

Captis was on display at both the large GreyOrange and Ericsson booths. InDro’s Head of Strategic Initiatives, Stacey Connors, was representing Cypher Robotics at the GreyOrange display and reports similar high levels of interest from potential clients.

Many organizations invested in consideration of drone technology for cycle counting within the past two years,” she says, “but concluded the payback and accuracy was not justifiable given the short run time of 10-25 mins per drone.

“So when they recognized this problem has been solved by Cypher’s tethered AMR, the excitement was obvious. Jaws dropped at the five-hour run time – and that no additional infrastructure was needed.”


Below: Tall shelves? That’s no problem for the Captis system, which uses a tethered drone to scan product at height


Cypher’s Takeaway

We knew going into the show we had a tried and tested product, one we hoped would fill a gaping void. We also believe that Captis is the only system of its kind fully developed and manufactured in North America.

That said, we also didn’t know with great certainty what other new products might be making their debut. Maybe there would be something like Captis, or even a completely different system with similar capabilities.

There wasn’t. And it turns out that old line from Field of Dreams was right: “If you build it, they will come.” We built it. And they came – in droves.

Anytime I told people that we didn’t want to disrupt their workflow, they lost their minds,” says InDro VP Peter King. “There was honestly nobody else at the show that had this kind of solution, and there’s incredible pent-up demand for precisely what Captis offers.”

Strategist Stacey Connors – at a different booth across the convention floor – saw the same response day in and day out.

“It truly did feel like the star of the show” she says. “The high volume of activity and interest around Captis continued to flow all week.”

Stay tuned. We’ll be posting in greater detail about the Captis RFID scanning capabilities, as well as its abilities for create perfect digital twins. All in due time.

Interested in learning more? You can hit up Cypher Robotics here.