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Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROCESSING OBJECTS INCLUDING AN AUTO-SHUTTLE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/175294
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A storage, retrieval and processing system (10) for processing objects is disclosed. The storage, retrieval and processing system includes a storage section (12) for a plurality of storage bins (14) providing storage of a plurality of objects, where the plurality of storage bins is in communication with a retrieval conveyance system (28), a programmable motion device (18) in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, where the programmable motion device includes an end effector (38) for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin, and a movable carriage (22) for receiving the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and for carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins (26).

Inventors:
WAGNER, Thomas (97 Alden Road, Concord, MA, 01742, US)
AHEARN, Kevin (378 Bloomsbury Circle, Camden, SC, 29020, US)
AMEND, John, Richard Jr. (49 Hill Road, Apartment #47Belmont, MA, 02478, US)
COHEN, Benjamin (34 Belmont Street #2, Somerville, MA, 02143, US)
DAWSON-HAGGERTY, Michael (333 S. Highland Avenue #501, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206, US)
FORT, William, Hartman (15 Country Farm Road, Stratham, NH, 03885, US)
GEYER, Christopher (56 Churchill Avenue, Arlington, MA, 02476, US)
HINCHEY, Victoria (172 Highland Avenue, Winchester, MA, 01889, US)
KING, Jennifer, Eileen (600 9th Street, Oakmont, PA, 15139, US)
KOLETSCHKA, Thomas (124 Rindge Avenue #33, Cambridge, MA, 02140, US)
KOVAL, Michael, Cap (5537 Bartlett Street, Apartment #1Pittsburgh, PA, 15217, US)
MARONEY, Kyle (118 Weena Road, North Attleboro, MA, 02760, US)
MASON, Matthew, T. (3060 Beechwood Bouelvard, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217, US)
MCMAHAN, William, Chu-Hyon (146 Dudley Street, Apartment #2Cambridge, MA, 02140, US)
PRICE, Gene, Temple (155 Elm Street, Somerville, MA, 02144, US)
ROMANO, Joseph (115 Belmont Street #1, Somerville, MA, 02143, US)
SMITH, Daniel (5240 Stanton Avenue #311, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15201, US)
SRINIVASA, Siddhartha (6341 Burchfield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217, US)
VELAGAPUDI, Prasanna (5836 Northumberland Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217, US)
ALLEN, Thomas (177 Woburn Street, Reading, MA, 01867, US)
Application Number:
US2018/023093
Publication Date:
September 27, 2018
Filing Date:
March 19, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BERKSHIRE GREY, INC. (10 Maguire Road, Building 4 Suite 19, Lexington MA, 02421, US)
International Classes:
B65G1/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017044747A12017-03-16
WO2015035300A12015-03-12
Foreign References:
US20140244026A12014-08-28
US20160244262A12016-08-25
US20170043953A12017-02-16
US20080181753A12008-07-31
JPS54131278A1979-10-12
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HILTON, William, E. et al. (Gesmer Updegrove LLP, 40 Broad StreetBoston, MA, 02109, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A storage, retrieval and processing system for processing objects, said storage, retrieval and processing system comprising:

a plurality of storage bins providing storage of a plurality of objects, said plurality of storage bins being in communication with a retrieval conveyance system;

a programmable motion device in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, said programmable motion device including an end effector for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin; and

a movable carriage for receiving the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and for carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins.

2. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the plurality of storage bins is provided in at least one linear arrangement adjacent the retrieval conveyance system, and wherein the storage, retrieval and processing system includes a bin displacement system for urging a selected bin onto the conveyance system

3. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the retrieval conveyance system is also adapted to bring the selected storage bin back to the plurality of storage bins.

4. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 3, wherein the retrieval conveyance system returns the selected storage bin to a different location than that from which the selected storage bin had been selected.

5. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the programmable motion device includes an articulated arm, and wherein the articulated arm is positioned adjacent a portion of the retrieval conveyance system.

6. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 5, wherein the movable carriage reciprocally moves between two rows of the destination bins, and is adapted to drop the selected object into a selected destination bin.

7. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 6, wherein each destination bin is adapted to selectively drop any contents of the respective destination bin into a destination container, said destination container be adapted for sealing and shipment by transport.

8. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 7, wherein each destination bin is provided adjacent an output conveyance system for receiving completed destination containers and for providing the completed destination containers to a further processing location.

9. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 8, wherein the further processing location is a shipment transport location.

10. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the storage, retrieval and processing system further includes at least one further programmable motion device for grasping and moving a selected object out of a further selected storage bin, and for providing the further selected object to a further movable carriage.

11. A storage, retrieval and processing system for processing objects, said storage, retrieval and processing system comprising:

a plurality of storage bins providing storage of a plurality of objects, said plurality of storage bins being provided in at least two linear arrangements, each of which is in communication with a retrieval conveyance system;

at least one programmable motion device in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, said programmable motion device for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin; and a reciprocating movable carriage for receiving the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and for carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins that are provided in at least two linear arrangements of destination bins.

12. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the storage, retrieval and processing system includes a bin displacement system for urging a selected bin onto the conveyance system

13. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the retrieval conveyance system is also adapted to bring the selected storage bin back to the plurality of storage bins.

14. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 13, wherein the retrieval conveyance system returns the selected storage bin to a different location than that from which the selected storage bin had been selected.

15. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the programmable motion device includes an articulated arm, and wherein the articulated arm is positioned adjacent a portion of the retrieval conveyance system.

16. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 15, wherein the movable carriage is adapted to drop the selected object into a selected destination bin.

17. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 16, wherein each destination bin is adapted to selectively drop any contents of the respective destination bin into a destination container, said destination container be adapted for sealing and shipment by transport.

18. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 17, wherein each destination bin is provided adjacent an output conveyance system for receiving completed destination containers and for providing the completed destination containers to a further processing location.

19. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 18, wherein the further processing location is a shipment transport location.

20. The storage, retrieval and processing system as claimed in claim 11, wherein the storage, retrieval and processing system further includes at least one further programmable motion device for grasping and moving a selected object out of a further selected storage bin, and for providing the further selected object to a further movable carriage.

21. A method of providing storage, retrieval and processing of objects, said method comprising the steps of:

providing a plurality of storage bins for storing a plurality of objects, said plurality of storage bins being in communication with a retrieval conveyance system;

receiving the storage bins from the plurality of storage bins at a programmable motion device in communication with the retrieval conveyance system;

grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin; and

receiving the selected object from the programmable motion device; and

carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins.

22. The method as claimed in claim 21, wherein the plurality of storage bins is provided in at least one linear arrangement adjacent the retrieval conveyance system, and wherein the method further includes the step of urging a selected bin onto the conveyance system

23. The method as claimed in claim 21, wherein the retrieval conveyance system is also adapted to bring the selected storage bin back to the plurality of storage bins.

24. The method as claimed in claim 23, wherein the retrieval conveyance system returns the selected storage bin to a different location than that from which the selected storage bin had been selected.

25. The method as claimed in claim 24, wherein the movable carriage reciprocally moves between two rows of the destination bins, and is adapted to drop the selected object into a selected destination bin.

26. The method as claimed in claim 25, wherein each destination bin is adapted to selectively drop any contents of the respective destination bin into a destination container, said destination container be adapted for sealing and shipment by transport.

27. The method as claimed in claim 26, wherein each destination bin is provided adjacent an output conveyance system for receiving completed destination containers and for providing the completed destination containers to a further processing location.

28. The method as claimed in claim 27, wherein the further processing location is a shipment transport location.

Description:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROCESSING OBJECTS INCLUDING AN AUTO- SHUTTLE SYSTEM

PRIORITY

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/473,843 filed March 20, 2017, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The invention generally relates to storage and retrieval systems, and relates in particular to automated storage and retrieval systems that are used with systems for processing objects.

Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) generally include computer controlled systems of automatically storing (placing) and retrieving items from defined storage locations. Traditional AS/RS typically employ totes (or bins), which are the smallest unit of load for the system. In these systems, the totes are brought to people who pick individual items out of the totes. When a person has picked the required number of items out of the tote, the tote is then re-inducted back into the AS/RS.

In these traditional systems, the totes are brought to a person, and the person may either remove an item from the tote or add an item to the tote. The tote is then returned to the storage location. Such systems, for example, may be used in libraries and warehouse storage facilities. The AS/RS involves no processing of the items in the tote, as a person processes the objects when the tote is brought to the person. This separation of jobs allows any automated transport system to do what it is good at - moving totes - and the person to do what the person is better at - picking items out of cluttered totes. It also means the person may stand in one place while the transport system brings the person totes, which increases the rate at which the person can pick goods. There are limits however, on such conventional systems in terms of the time and resources required to move totes toward and then away from each person, as well as how quickly a person can process totes in this fashion in applications where each person may be required to process a large number of totes. There remains a need therefore, for an AS/RS that stores and retrieves objects more efficiently and cost effectively, yet also assists in the processing of a wide variety of objects.

SUMMARY

In accordance with an embodiment, the invention provides a storage, retrieval and processing system for processing objects. The storage, retrieval and processing system includes a plurality of storage bins providing storage of a plurality of objects, where the plurality of storage bins is in communication with a retrieval conveyance system, a programmable motion device in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, where the programmable motion device includes an end effector for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin, and a movable carriage for receiving the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and for carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins.

In accordance with another embodiment, the invention provides a storage, retrieval and processing system for processing objects, where the storage, retrieval and processing system includes a plurality of storage bins, at least one programmable motion device, and a movable carriage. The plurality of storage bins provides storage of a plurality of objects, and is provided in at least two linear arrangements, each of which is in communication with a retrieval conveyance system. The at least one programmable motion device is in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, and the programmable motion device is for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin. The reciprocating movable carriage is for receiving the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and for carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins that are provided in at least two linear arrangements of destination bins.

In accordance with a further embodiment, the invention provides a method of providing storage, retrieval and processing of objects. The includes the steps of providing a plurality of storage bins for storing a plurality of objects, the plurality of storage bins being in communication with a retrieval conveyance system, receiving the storage bins from the plurality of storage bins at a programmable motion device in communication with the retrieval conveyance system, grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin; receiving the selected object from the programmable motion device and carrying the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following description may be further understood with reference to the accompanying drawing in which:

Figure 1 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a storage section portion of the storage, retrieval and processing system of Figure 1;

Figures 3 A and 3B show an illustrative diagrammatic views of embodiments of a bin displacement system for use in a retrieval conveyance system of the invention; Figure 4 shows an illustrative diagrammatic exploded view of a box assembly for use as a storage bin or destination bin in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention;

Figure 5 shows the assembled box tray assembly of Figure 4;

Figure 6A - 6D show illustrative diagrammatic views of a further embodiment of a bin displacement system for use in further embodiments of the invention;

Figure 7 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a programmable motion device processing station for use in a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 8 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view from the perception system of Figure 7, showing a view of objects within a bin of objects to be processed;

Figures 9A and 9B show an illustrative diagrammatic view of a grasp selection process in a storage, retrieval and processing system of the an embodiment of the present invention;

Figures 10A and 10B show an illustrative diagrammatic view of a grasp planning process in a storage, retrieval and processing system of the an embodiment of the present invention;

Figures 11A and 11B show an illustrative diagrammatic view of a grasp execution process in a storage, retrieval and processing system of the an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 12 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a portion of the processing system together with a portion of a destination section of an embodiment of a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 13 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a processing section in a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention wherein an object is placed in a carriage; Figure 14 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of the processing section of Figure 13 with the carriage having been moved along its track;

Figure 15 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of the processing section of Figure 13 with the carriage having transferred its load to a destination bin;

Figures 16A and 16B show illustrative diagrammatic views of a bin removal mechanism for use in a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 17 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of the processing section of Figure 13 with the carriage having returned to its base, and a removed destination bin being moved urged from its location;

Figure 18 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of the processing section of Figure 13 with the removed destination bin being moved along an output conveyor;

Figure 19 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention employing a plurality of storage sections, processing sections, and a plurality of destination sections; and

Figure 20 shows an illustrative diagrammatic view of a storage, retrieval and processing system in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention employing further pluralities of storage sections, processing sections and destination sections.

The drawings are shown for illustrative purposes only.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In accordance with an embodiment, the invention provides a storage, retrieval and processing system for processing objects. The system includes a plurality of storage bins providing storage of a plurality of objects, a programmable motion device, and a movable carriage. The plurality of storage bins is in communication with a retrieval conveyance system. The programmable motion device is in communication with the retrieval conveyance system for receiving the storage bins from the plurality of bins, and the programmable motion device includes an end effector for grasping and moving a selected object out of a selected storage bin. The movable carriage receives the selected object from the end effector of the programmable motion device, and carries the selected object to one of a plurality of destination bins.

With reference to Figure 1, a system 10 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a storage section 12 at which a plurality of storage bins 14 are provided, a processing section 16 that includes a programmable motion device 18, and one or more destination section 20 that include one or more shuttle carriers 22. Generally, storage bins 14 are selectively provided to and from the processing section 16, where objects are moved from a selected storage bin and placed or dropped by the programmable motion device 18 into a carriage 22 of the destination section 20 for delivery to one of a plurality of destination bins 24. When a destination bin 24 is complete, the completed bin is urged onto an output conveyor 26 for further processing or transport.

As shown in Figure 2, the storage bins 14 of the storage section 12 are provided adjacent to retrieval conveyors 28 that carry a selected storage bin to toward the processing station 16. As further shown with reference to Figures 3 A and 3B, when a particular storage bin 15 is selected for retrieval, a bin removal mechanism 30 travels along between the bins 14, and stops adjacent to the selected storage bin as shown in Figure 3 A.

With reference to Figure 3B, the system will then move an urging member 32 of the mechanism 30 to push the selected bin 15 onto a conveyor 28 leading to the processing section 16. The removal mechanism 30 may actuate the urging member 32 by any of a variety of processes, including having the support beam 31 be threaded with the urging member 28 being threaded onto the beam 29 such that it moves when the support beam is rotated, or by other mechanical, pneumatic or electronic actuation.

The conveyor 28 (as well as the other conveyors in the system) may be motion controlled so that both the speed and the direction of the conveyor (e.g., rollers or belt) may be controlled. In certain embodiments, certain of the conveyors (e.g., leading from the storage station 12 to the processing station 16) may be gravity biased to cause any storage bin on any conveyor system to be delivered to the processing section 16 near the programmable motion device 18.

The bins 14 may be provided as boxes, totes, containers or any other type of device that may receive and hold an item. In further embodiments, the bins may be provided in uniform trays (to provide consistency of spacing and processing) and may further include open covers that may maintain the bin in an open position, and may further provide consistency in processing through any of spacing, alignment, or labeling.

For example, Figure 4 shows an exploded view of a box tray assembly 130. As shown, the box 132 (e.g., a standard shipping sized cardboard box) may include bottom 131 and side edges 133 that are received by a top surface 135 and inner sides 137 of a box tray 134. The box tray 134 may include a recessed (protected) area in which a label or other identifying indicia 146 may be provided, as well as a wide and smooth contact surface 151 that may be engaged by an urging or removal mechanism as discussed below.

As also shown in Figure 4, the box 132 may include top flaps 138 that, when opened as shown, are held open by inner surfaces 140 of the box cover 136. The box cover 136 may also include a recessed (protected) area in which a label or other identifying indicia 145 may be provided The box cover 136 also provides a defined rim opening 142, as well as corner elements 144 that may assist in providing structural integrity of the assembly, and may assist in stacking un-used covers on one another. Un-used box trays may also be stacked on each other..

The box 132 is thus maintained securely within the box tray 134, and the box cover 136 provides that the flaps 138 remain down along the outside of the box permitting the interior of the box to be accessible through the opening 142 in the box cover 136. Figure 5 shows a width side view of the box tray assembly 130 with the box 132 securely seated within the box tray 134, and the box cover holding open the flaps 138 of the box 132. The box tray assemblies may be used as any or both of the storage bins and destination bins in various embodiments of the present invention.

With reference to Figures 6A - 6D, a box kicker 184 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention may be suspended by and travel along a track 86, and may include a rotatable arm 88 and a roller wheel 190 at the end of the arm 88. With reference to Figures 6B - 6D, when the roller wheel 190 contacts the kicker plate 151 (shown in Figure 4) of a box tray assembly 120, the arm 188 continues to rotate, urging the box tray assembly 180 from a first conveyor 182 to a second conveyor 180. Again, the roller wheel 190 is designed to contact the kicker plate 151 of a box tray assembly 181 to push the box tray assembly 181 onto the conveyor 180. Such a system may be used to provide that boxes that are empty or finished being unloaded may be removed (e.g., from conveyor 182), or that boxes that are full or finished being loaded may be removed (e.g., from conveyor 182). The conveyors 180, 182 may also be coplanar, and the system may further include transition roller 183 to facilitate movement of the box tray assembly 181, e.g., by being activated to pull the box tray over to the conveyor 180.

With reference to Figure 7, the processing station 16 also includes a perception unit 36 that is mounted adjacent to the base of the programmable motion device 18, and looks down into the selected storage bin. An end effector 38 of the programmable motion device grasps an object in bin, and moves to deliver the object to a desired destination bin 24 by placing or dropping the object into a carriage, that then shuttles the object to the selected destination bin 24 (as shown further in Figure 12).

The storage bin may then be returned to the plurality of storage bins at the storage station, and may be returned anywhere among the bins as long as the system knows where the bin has been returned, and knows how each of the bins may have been moved when the selected storage bin was transferred to the conveyor 28. The storage bins, for example, may be biased (e.g., by gravity) to stack against one of the ends of each row of bins, and the returned bins may be put at the uphill end of a row of storage bins. The storage bins may be returned to the storage section 12 by the conveyors as discussed above, and may be returned to the central area between the conveyors 28 either by human personnel or by employing additional removal mechanisms as discussed above to urge bins back into the central area.

Figure 8 shows an image view 50 of a bin 14 from the perception unit 38. The image view shows the bin 14 (e.g., on the conveyor), and the bin 14 contains objects 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86. In the present embodiment, the objects are homogenous, and are intended for distribution to different distribution packages. Superimposed on the objects 78, 80, 82, 84, 86 (for illustrative purposes) are anticipated grasp locations 79, 81, 83 and 85 of the objects. Note that while candidate grasp locations 79, 83 and 85 appear to be good grasp locations, grasp location 81 does not because its associated object is at least partially underneath another object. The system may also not even try to yet identify a grasp location for the object 84 because the object 84 is too obscured by other objects. Candidate grasp locations may be indicated using a 3D model of the robot end effector placed in the location where the actual end effector would go to use as a grasp location as shown in Figure 5. Grasp locations may be considered good, for example, if they are close to the center of mass of the object to provide greater stability during grasp and transport, and/or if they avoid places on an object such as caps, seams etc. where a good vacuum seal might not be available.

If an object cannot be fully perceived by the detection system, the perception system considers the object to be two different objects, and may propose more than one candidate grasps of such two different objects. If the system executes a grasp at either of these bad grasp locations, it will either fail to acquire the object due to a bad grasp point where a vacuum seal will not occur, or will acquire the object at a grasp location that is very far from the center of mass of the object and thereby induce a great deal of instability during any attempted transport. Each of these results is undesirable.

If a bad grasp location is experienced, the system may remember that location for the associated object. By identifying good and bad grasp locations, a correlation is established between features in the 2D/3D images and the idea of good or bad grasp locations. Using this data and these correlations as input to machine learning algorithms, the system may eventually learn, for each image presented to it, where to best grasp an object, and where to avoid grasping an object.

As shown in Figures 9A and 9B, the perception system may also identify portions of an object that are the most flat in the generation of good grasp location information. In particular, if an object includes a tubular end and a flat end such as object 87, the system would identify the more flat end as shown at 88 in Figure 9B. Additionally, the system may select the area of an object where a UPC code appears, as such codes are often printed on a relatively flat portion of the object to facilitate scanning of the barcode.

Figures 10A and 10B show that for each object 90, 92, the grasp selection system may determine a direction that is normal to the selected flat portion of the object 90, 92. As shown in Figures 11A and 11B, the robotic system will then direct the end effector 94 to approach each object 90, 92 from the direction that is normal to the surface in order to better facilitate the generation of a good grasp on each object. By approaching each object from a direction that is substantially normal to a surface of the object, the robotic system significantly improves the likelihood of obtaining a good grasp of the object, particularly when a vacuum end effector is employed.

The invention therefore provides in certain embodiments that grasp optimization may be based on determination of surface normal, i.e., moving the end effector to be normal to the perceived surface of the object (as opposed to vertical picks), and that such grasp points may be chosen using fiducial features as grasp points, such as picking on a barcode, given that barcodes are almost always applied to a flat spot on the object.

Figure 12 shows the processing section 16 and portions of the destination sections 20 of the system, which include movable carriages 22 that may receive an object from the end effector 38 of the programmable motion device 18. The movable carriage is reciprocally movable between the destination bins 24, and as further shown in Figures 13 and 14, each carriage 22 moves along a track 42, and may be actuated to drop an object 44 into a desired destination bin 24 (as shown in Figure 15).

The destination bins may be provided in a conveyor (e.g., rollers or belt), and may be biased (for example by gravity) to urge all destination bins toward one end (for example, the distal end 38 as shown.. With reference to Figures 16A and 16B, when a destination bin 24 is selected for removal (e.g., because the bin is full or otherwise ready for further processing), the system will urge the completed bin onto an output conveyor 26 to be brought to a further processing or shipment station. The conveyor 26 may be biased (e.g., by gravity) to cause any bin on the conveyor to be brought to an output location.

Figures 16A and 16B show a bin being urged from the plurality of destination bins, onto the output conveyor 26 by the use of a displacement mechanism 48. In accordance with further embodiments, other displacement mechanisms may be used, including for example, those discussed above with reference to Figures 3 A - 3B, and 6A - 6D. The destination bins may be provided as boxes or containers or any other type of device that may receive and hold an item, including the box tray assemblies discussed above with reference to Figures 4 and 5.

Following displacement of the bin onto the conveyor (as shown in Figure 17), each of the destination bins may be urged together, and the system will record the change in position of any of the bins that moved (as shown in Figure 18). This way, a new empty bin may be added to the end, and the system will record the correct location and identified processing particulars of each of the destination bins. This is shown in Figures 13 and 14, whereby a bin 24 is removed and pushed onto the conveyor 26 (see Figure 13), and then the remaining bins are urged together while the removed bin rolls toward an output location (see Figure 14).

Systems of the invention are highly scalable in terms of sorts-per-hour as well as the number of storage bins and destination bins that may be available. Figure 15 shows a system 100 in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention that includes plurality of storage sections 112, a plurality of processing sections 116, and a plurality of destination sections 120. Generally, both storage sections 112 function as discussed above with regard to Figures 1 - 6D and feed both processing sections 116 as discussed above with reference to Figures 1 and 4. Each processing section 116 includes a programmable motion device 118 that provides objects to carriages of one or more processing sections 120.

Figure 16 shows a system 200 in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention that includes a further plurality (e.g., four) of storage sections 212, a further plurality (e.g., four) of processing sections 216, and a further plurality (e.g., four pairs) of destination sections 120. Generally, all storage sections 212 function as discussed above with regard to Figures 1 - 3B and feed all processing sections 216 as discussed above with reference to Figures 1 and 4. Each processing section 216 includes a programmable motion device 218 that provides objects to carriages of one or more processing sections 220. Control of each of the systems 10, 100 and 200 may be provided by the computer system 60 that is in communication with the storage conveyors and displacement mechanism(s), the processing conveyors and displacement mechanism(s), and the programmable motion device(s). The computer system 60 also contains the knowledge (continuously updated) of the location and identity of each of the storage bins, and contains the knowledge (also continuously updated) of the location and identity of each of the destination bins. The system therefore, directs the movement of the storage bins and the destination bins, and retrieves objects from the storage bins, and distributes the objects to the destination bins in accordance with an overall manifest that dictates which objects must be provided in which destination boxes for shipment, for example, to distribution or retail locations.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that numerous modifications and variations may be made to the above disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

What is claimed is: