If you have ever wondered how Amazon manages to move 1.6 million packages per day, look no further than their massive investment in plant robotics.
The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund is a $1B R&D fund focused on seeding money to innovative companies trying to solve logistics and plant processing problems.
With over 750,000 robots working side by side with plant team members in packaging centers, the company is already well-versed in using automation in creative ways.
Amazon recently announced a new autonomous robot it calls “Sequoia,” which speeds up the identification and sorting of inbound inventory by 75%.
The company estimates that this improves order fulfillment time by 25% in the Houston fulfillment center where the robot system is being tested.
Sequoia integrates multiple technologies, bringing together mobile robotics, robotic arms, and gantries to containerize the products that humans need and deliver them right to their workstations.
Robots are used throughout the plants to reduce heavy lifting tasks and repetitive movements.
Amazon has also partnered with Agility Robots to begin to test a humanoid robot called “Digit” that can walk and grasp items.
Digit has many potential uses, working side by side with humans or even taking their places in certain cases.
The company is quick to point out that all this automation allows them to move more quickly while being safer, and is not about replacing human workers.
In fact, the company claims that all the new technology and automation has actually created more jobs – including 700 new job categories.
But as robots get better and better at sorting, picking, and moving packages, one has to wonder what will be left for humans to do.