Amazon’s Global Robot Revolution
Amazon’s Global Robot Revolution
As Amazon continues to push its robotics technology forward, it helps improve quality of life and quality of the workplace experience for millions around the world.
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Out of all the technological advancements of the last few years, perhaps none have been as stunning as the development of robotics. Amazon’s purchase of Kiva Systems back in 2012 made it clear that they were ready to invest heavily in the idea of building better robots. In the five years following that purchase, they have followed through on this goal and pushed robotics to a whole new level.
Amazon’s first goal was to make robotics a big part of their warehouse operations. Shipping and receiving goods is a time and labor-intensive process, requiring people to repeatedly walk back and forth across gigantic warehouses. They have to lift heavy objects, operate potentially dangerous machinery, and complete a series of repetitive tasks that are prone to human error.
Robot technology is well-suited to ease some of the burdens of shipping more than 1.5 million packages per day. Robots can identify objects and transport them large distances across warehouses, enabling humans to stay in one place and work more efficiently.
There are some key limitations in what robots are able to do at this point. Amazon has yet to solve the issue of handling small, awkwardly shaped items. While a human is able to easily look at a small item and pick it up, robots are prone to knocking things over and/or damaging delicate goods if not specifically programmed for that object. If Amazon can solve this problem, robots will be able to take over a much wider range of shipment-related tasks.
The Future of Amazon Robots
A lot of Amazon’s future with robotics is dependent on other, related forms of technology. Artificial intelligence may be the most important out of all of these. While data science has led to some big improvements in the way computers operate, robots still need human assistance to parse the data.
If robots can collect and work with data on their own, it will open the potential for much greater automation. Robots may one day learn to “think on their feet” and handle brand new situations with the same common sense that a human worker can do today.
3D printing is another related field to robotics. It’s how a computer can print out a physical object that may be useful to complete a task. Imagine that a robot could assess a problem, devise a solution, and then print out the tool it needs to enact the solution. This would be a huge level up from the current state of robotics.
Today's Robotics Technology
The world is not far from this kind of technological brilliance. There are many examples of elegant robotics technology that already exists today.
Consider the checkweigher, a device that easily weighs and scans a variety of items as they come across the belt. Rather than try to force humans to sort through hundreds of items each hour like FedEx and other shipping companies do, a tech-focused company like Amazon can use such a machine to save time and money. In combination with transportation robots, this is a way to automate the majority of the shipment process.
As Amazon continues to invest heavily in robotics technology, the rest of the world can only wait and see what will happen. It seems clear that there will be many incredible new applications for robotics in the coming decade.
The Future Is Now
The future has arrived and it’s a great place to be. As Amazon continues to push its robotics technology forward, it helps improve quality of life and quality of the workplace experience for millions of people around the world. The sky’s the limit when it comes to robotics.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.