The past ten years have sped by, but Amazon’s desire to improve their workers’ and customers’ experiences has remained constant. A committed group of roboticists, engineers, software developers, ergonomics experts, and other professionals have transformed their operations from what first began as an intriguing purchase. Their facilities are crucial in providing consumers with items when and where they want them.
At Amazon, there has been a decade of discovery. By purchasing the robotics business Kiva in 2012, they invested significantly to increase supply chain productivity. The Kiva purchase was a significant gamble on predicting innovation’s role in helping them satisfy customers’ requirements while making work safer, easier, and more productive for employees.
They may have adopted robotics and other technologies at their facilities due to the Kiva acquisition, but it was just the start of their robotics journey. They continued developing in new and intriguing areas to enhance customer and employee experience and make the workplace safer. At the time, they had some automation in their fulfillment facilities.
There was widespread speculation that Amazon was using robots to replace workers. However, ten years later, the facts paint a different picture. In their facilities worldwide, which include sorting facilities and air hubs, they have more than a dozen more types of motorized equipment. Their vision has never depended on a binary choice between people and technology from the early days of the Kiva purchase. Instead, it was about utilizing technology and people safely and effectively to meet their clients’ needs. That goal still exists today.
Here are a few of the latest innovations they’re growing and funding to improve the workplace-
Amazon’s first mobile robot with complete autonomy is called Proteus. In the past, it has been challenging to securely integrate robots in areas where people are present. They think Proteus will alter that while continuing to be intelligent, secure, and cooperative.
Using sophisticated safety, vision, and navigational technologies created by Amazon, Proteus walks independently across their facilities. The robot doesn’t need to be confined to prohibited areas because it was designed to be automatically instructed to carry out its function and move around employees. The lifting and moving of GoCarts, the non-automated, wheeled transports used to move packages through their facilities, is just one example of how it can operate in a way that enhances simple, safe interaction between technology and people. This opens up a more comprehensive range of potential uses to help their employees.
Identification via Amazon Robotics
In response to employee feedback, they developed Amazon Robotics Identification (AR ID), an AI-powered scanning capability with cutting-edge computer vision and machine learning technology. This technology makes it simpler to scan parcels inside of their facilities. Every shipment entering one of their facilities is inspected as it travels. Currently, manual scanning is used at fulfillment centers. When an item arrives at a workstation, an employee retrieves it from a container, locates the barcode using a hand scanner, and manually scans the object.
Employee mobility is increased, and the danger of harm is decreased thanks to AR ID, which eliminates the manual scanning procedure by utilizing a unique camera system that operates at 120 frames per second. Employees can labor to arrange the package so that it can be manually scanned, or they can handle the parcels freely with both hands instead of one while holding a scanner in the other. As a result, there is a natural movement, and the technology is working behind the scenes.
They are steadily looking for ways to automate the movement of large items and the elimination of employee twisting and turning actions to lower the risk of harm. Enter Cardinal, the robotic work cell that, using cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, quickly and accurately selects one package from a stack of containers, lifts it, reads the label, and precisely places the package in a GoCart to send the box on its way to the next stage of its journey. By managing operations that require lifting and turning large or heavy goods or sophisticated packaging in a restricted space, Cardinal lowers the danger of staff injury.
System for Containerized Storage
Another invention that has increased worker safety is containerization goods. Employees currently choose or stow goods onto movable shelves as they travel through the process of processing customer orders at various Amazon fulfillment facilities. They’ve been working on a robotic system that distributes goods to employees in a more ergonomically pleasant way to decrease the need for workers to reach up, bend over, or climb ladders while collecting stuff.
Their innovative Containerized Storage System places workers in a safer and more comfortable posture through a carefully orchestrated ballet of robots and software. The system aids in identifying the pod that has the container containing the required product, the location of that contained within the pod, the best way to grasp and pull the container to the employee, and the best way to pick it up once the employee has collected the product. Their staff enjoys a safer and more comfortable working environment as a consequence.
I am consulting intern at MarktechPost. I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering at IIT Kanpur. My interest lies in the field of machining and Robotics. Besides, I have a keen interest in AI, ML, DL, and related areas. I am a tech enthusiast and passionate about new technologies and their real-life uses.