Do you know who are Amazon’s busiest employees? Kiva robots.
An army of 15,000 of those little cyborgs is already operating in 10 of Amazon’s eighth-generation fulfillment centers based across the US. Amazon acquired Kiva Systems Robotics, a Massachusetts-based company, in March 2012 for $775 million.
The traditional approach to warehouse picking is time-consuming, with individual employees moving around large warehouses to collect scattered items from the shelves. Now, Kiva mobile robotic fulfillment systems are connected to a wireless network and navigate using barcodes on the floor. They are also equipped with sensors that help them detect and avoid obstacles. This makes them way more efficient. Kiva Robots actually increase productivity by 2-4 times over other picking methods. Hence, they generate up to 20% cost saving in Amazon warehouses using them.
As sensors, cameras and CPUs get cheaper and more capable, they are enabling robots to do more at less cost. It is little wonder that the Robotics Industries Association (RIA) reports that North American robot sales set new record for the first half of 2015: 14,232 robots, valued at $840 Million, were ordered during that period.