Amazon Begins Testing New Technology To Improve Warehouse Efficiency
Amazon has started testing a new robotic system that can detect, select and handle individual products. This is the first time a robot has that capability in its warehouses, the company said last week.
The system is named Sparrow, and can handle millions of a range of products with the use of computer vision and artificial intelligence, according to Amazon. It moves items prior to packaging, relieving employees of repetitive tasks.
The system is currently in the research and development phase, and the company is measuring a number of factors before deploying it at scale, according to spokesperson Xavier Van Chau.
On average, Amazon workers picked, stowed or packed more than 13 million packages per day last year. This system(Sparrow) will in theory make this process more efficient.
The acquisition of Kiva Systems by Amazon in 2012 kickstarted a larger robotics presence within its facilities to help handle waves of customer orders. Currently, the company has more than 520,000 robotic drive units and more than a dozen types of robotic systems in its facilities.
“We have millions of products of all shapes and sizes in our inventory, and we recognized the opportunity to invent new technology that could help handle them at Amazon’s scale,” - Amazon
Robotic parcel sorters have been an investment area for a number of companies. FedEx Express uses robotic arms at its World Hub in Memphis, Tennessee to handle small packages and letters. DHL’s e-commerce division has also seen improved throughput following the installation of DoraSorter robotic systems at an Atlanta distribution center.