Here’s an interesting feature on Amazon’s Kiva robots, used to automate the process of filling orders in some of its warehouses. I hadn’t been entirely clear on how those robots worked, but the article does a great job explaining.
The Kiva robots essentially resemble oversized Roombas—squat hockey-puck-shaped gizmos that trundle along the warehouse floors. They operate by latching onto huge inventory shelves and carrying them along with them to “stow stations” where workers load incoming shipments of merchandise into them, or to “picking stations” where order pickers grab the merchandise and put it into a box.
To hear the article tell it, when the robots are in place in a warehouse, it will eliminate all the frantic running around to grab stuff that so exhausts Amazon warehouse workers now (to the point where one former Amazon warehouse worker said her life is better now that she is homeless and unemployed than it had been when she was working for Amazon). All I can say is, the sooner it rolls out to all of them, the better. Amazon’s representative said that they shouldn’t result in a loss of jobs, either, because as Amazon improves efficiency, it will simply expand and hence need more humans to work in tandem with its robots.