Six Warehouse Robotics Innovations Unveiled By Amazon in 2022
Although Amazon's warehouse expansion slowed in 2022 due to falling levels of demand, the company has ramped up automation efforts inside its facilities though.
Here's a summary of six warehouse robotics innovations:
2. Robotic stowing
Amazon has prototypes of its robotic stow workstation at a lab in Seattle, Washington, and another system installed and handling live inventory at a Sumner, Washington, fulfillment center. This year, the system successfully stowed 94 of 95 items in a test featuring products with challenging attributes, like items with an offset center of gravity.
Sparrow is a robotic system that can detect, select and handle millions of individual products using computer vision and artificial intelligence. The system works by moving items prior to packaging, and hence it relieves employees of repetitive tasks and makes the fulfillment process more efficient, according to Amazon. Sparrow is currently in the research and development phase.
4. Experimental transport robot
Amazon is also testing free-roaming robots that handle the transport of oversized and unwieldy items within a fulfillment center. These items are normally transported by employees via pulleys and forklifts. The company aims to have the robots, which use artificial intelligence and computer vision, cover this task instead.
The fully autonomous Proteus, unveiled in June, lifts and moves GoCarts throughout fulfillment centers and sort centers, navigating around employees in the process.
6. Pinch-grasping robot
In preliminary tests, this prototype achieved a tenfold reduction in damage on certain items without losing speed versus suction-using robots, according to Amazon Science’s website. It's purpose is to move a variety of items quickly and without damage. Vacuum-like suction is the typical technology for robots moving a varied set of items, but there are challenges associated with suction.