The forklift safety problem

Forklifts are essential for logistics operations. They also come with significant risks - especially for nearby workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates about 8,500 non-fatal and 85 fatal injuries involving forklifts occur each year in the US. The UK reports around 1,300 hospitalized employees with serious injuries, and Germany reports around 375 serious injuries annually.

HSE (Health Safety Environment) managers implement  various measures to reduce the occurrence of these accidents.

Of course, forklift operator training is crucial. But there are several other basic measures that enhance safety in warehouse operations. Clear floor marking for pedestrian walkways and forklift routes, displaying prominent safety signage, installing physical safety barriers or guardrails, and equipping forklifts with audible horns, blue safety lights, and mirrors all help to reduce accidents.

How can we use digital solutions and more technologically advanced measures to further improve the safety and protection of essential warehouse staff?

Traditional radio technologies, like RF-ID, Wifi and Bluetooth, can be used to enhance spatial awareness. There are also more advanced real-time location systems (RTLS) based on Ultra Wideband (UWB) that offer greater precision and intelligence.

In addition to these solutions, integrating Artificial Intelligence-based Computer Vision can provide a more robust level of protection, or it could even replace the other systems.

The Apixa FCA platform

The Apixa FCA (Forklift Collision Avoidance) system is a cutting-edge AI Vision-based software/hardware (SW/HW) forklift mounted camera system for fast and accurate person detection. We bring a vigilant set of eyes to the warehouse floor.

Apixa FCA operates with low-latency on low-price point edge-AI devices, harnessing our industry-leading Artificial Intelligence algorithms to swiftly process data generated by the forklift mounted devices, all in a privacy compliant way.

The platform is expandable and modular and goes beyond person detection. Apixa FCA not only detects people, but can also see other objects common in warehouse environments such as vehicles, pallets, products, and shelving. It can also offer localization capabilities, tracking the precise location, position, and movements of forklifts within the operating environment.

It’s all in the details

Our success in advanced vision-based forklift-person collision avoidance takes meticulous attention to detail.

One critical aspect is training our AI models to accurately recognize and classify the entire range of human movements and postures. Our system ensures dependable detection of individuals, regardless of whether they are walking, standing, squatting, bending, pushing, leaning, reaching, or even lying down.

We also need to account for the distinct characteristics of each person, including factors like height, body shape, and specific accessibility needs.

We do this by developing an extensive dataset that encompasses both real and artificially generated shapes, guiding our model to recognize typical poses and even unexpected variations that may arise within a warehouse environment.

Real-time detection to protect workers

Warehouses are fast-paced. Reaction time for AI-based computer vision needs to be as instant as possible.

Detecting individuals and objects at the earliest possible stage is vital for a high-performance system, but presents significant challenges. People who abruptly appear from behind objects or at the edges of the image are often heavily obscured or occluded.

We addressed this challenge in two ways:

  1. We created special datasets that guide our AI-models to handle these scenarios.
  2. We developed AI models to be able to process high-resolution images while running at high framerates on low-cost edge-AI platforms.

This efficiency and early detection enables the platform to gather more evidence across multiple frames, which helps reduce false positives and make our systems even stronger and more reliable.

Free space detection

The Apixa FCA platform allows for free space detection capabilities, extending our application for collision avoidance to detection of general objects. It also allows for innovative features like path planning, automatic forklift speed reduction in narrow passageways, and much more.

When developing this solution, the final total system cost was kept low by avoiding additional hardware (like LIDAR) and extracting the necessary information directly from the camera system.

Free space detection poses a complex challenge for most AI models to solve. Warehouses often have polished floors, leading to a high level of reflection of lamps and other objects. On top of that, some items in the warehouse might have a similar appearance to some floor markings, making it difficult to make a distinction.

Integrate FCA in your solution

Manufacturers and system integrators operating in the field of warehouse safety and automation are eager to incorporate AI Vision into their existing solutions.

The Apixa FCA allows them to easily expand their current offerings with a state-of-the-art AI vision solution. We offer various collaboration options, ranging from short-term evaluation projects to test the solution and market potential, to establishing long-term technology partnerships for continuous advancements.

Our person detection platform offers the flexibility of integration through a non-exclusive software license arrangement. This means you have the freedom to choose whether to opt in or opt out based on your project’s specific requirements.

We handle the AI Vision part of your business, allowing you to focus on your core priorities. Together, we can help ensure the safety of warehouse employees now and in the factories of the future.

Why Apixa as your Partner?

Apixa is a pure technology organization dedicated to developing innovative solutions without any specific vertical market limitations. With a proven track record, we have successfully created products and solutions for companies ranging from startups to large multinational organizations.

Our vision is that by providing a common person detection platform to our different partners, we can create economies of scale.  

A collaborative partnership between organizations allows not only to reduce costs for the underlying hardware platform, but also share critical data used to train AI models. This enables each partner to harness the accelerated performance and continuously enjoy new features developed by our dedicated team.

Unique AI Vision expertise

Apixa emerged as a spin-off from KU Leuven University over 15 years ago. Since then, we have cultivated unparalleled expertise in computer vision and AI.

Domain tech transfer

Apixa has gained valuable experience across a range of sectors, such as the security industry, where we have successfully developed person detection applications. This potential for cross-fertilization allows us to deliver unique and impactful solutions across diverse industries.

Consultancy experts at your service

Apixa's dedicated team of computer vision experts is ready to provide efficient and tailored expertise to customers and partners in need of specific AI computer vision development needs.

Privacy compliance

Ensuring compliance with regulations like the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and prioritizing privacy are crucial when conducting AI-based computer vision projects involving person detection. Apixa possesses extensive expertise in developing specific privacy measures and implementing industry best practices in this domain.

Research-backed performance

The synergies created by sharing many different data pools, in combination with our continuous research in the field of person detection, results in a high-performance forklift collision avoidance platform.

High tech support

All AI applications require maintenance and support. The Apixa AI person detection support team is at your service to help and implement AI improvements. And when necessary, do efficient retraining of the AI models to keep operations on track.

Want to learn more about how AI vision on forklifts will safeguard the warehouses of the future? Contact us now to unlock the full potential of Apixa's cutting-edge technology.

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