Amazon Deploys Robot Army To Assemble Your Orders

This is only what giant Amazon order-filling robots look like in my imagination.

This is only what giant Amazon order-filling robots look like in my imagination. (chinguri)

While government regulations are keeping Amazon’s delivery drones out of American skies for now, the company is still looking for ways to remove slow, error-prone humans from the fulfillment process in order to save time and money. One cool piece of machinery that will help the company with the holiday rush are robots that don’t pick items off the shelves: they bring the shelves to the human order-pickers.

We’ve shared with you an account of life as an order-picker in a large e-commerce warehouse, where order-pickers need quality walking shoes as they power-walk around a massive warehouse, collecting items to be boxed and shipped. Amazon bought Kiva Systems, a company that makes shelf robots, in 2012. These robots don’t roam the shelves: they bring shelving units to the order-pickers, who can perform their jobs much more quickly when they don’t have to walk from shelf to shelf.

This isn’t about saving the aching feet of order-pickers, of course: the idea is to cut costs. An order picker in a robot-equipped warehouse can nab 300 items per hour, but a worker human-powered warehouse is supposed to get about 100. One expert told the Wall Street Journal that automating warehouses in this way could cut fulfillment costs by as much as 40%.

By the end of the year, Amazon plans to have about 10,000 shelf-bots roaming its warehouses.

Amazon robots prepare for Christmas [MarketWatch]

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