When we think of robots and drones, we picture a metal being that does whatever we programmed it to do. Realistically though, the robots of the 21st century are more like devices that make everyday tasks easier — like the Orbita, WINBOT and Grillbot. There are even STEM-ulating robot toys that teach kids how to code. Robots are everywhere now — even in the North Pole. Yup, Santa’s got some automated bot elves this year. And by Santa, we mean Amazon.
If you were able to catch some great deals on Amazon on Cyber Monday, your items were packaged with the help of a few Kiva robots. These Amazon-orange robots that weigh 350 pounds drive across the warehouse at around five mph, each carrying a seven-foot shelving unit up to double its own weight. These bots bring the items to the Amazon employees to make packing a whole lot faster.
Some may be thinking that these robots are replacing thousands of employees and leaving many in a financial pinch. Amazon’s Senior VP of Worldwide Operations David Clark says the purpose of the Kiva bots “are not to take away people’s jobs, but rather to help people do their job.” If anything, Amazon is continually offering employment opportunities — especially during the holiday season. Every year around this time, Amazon hires an extra 80,000 seasonal workers, from which thousands are hired for full-time positions afterwards.
Before Kiva bots came to help out, employees had to walk around the 800,000-square-foot warehouse, looking for the items that needed to be shipped out. The compact Kiva bots not only increase Amazon’s efficiency by 20%, but also allow 50% more space for inventory in the warehouse. That means faster shipments and quicker arrivals, which means more presents under the tree. Considering this also makes same-day shipping a little easier to fulfill, it sounds like even last-minute shoppers can relax. Clark said, “If you’re singing the Twelve Days of Christmas, your order could already be in the truck before you finish.”
Time to order some presents, crank up the holiday tunes and make some hot chocolate. Because before we know it: Ding-dong! Our orders are already at our door.
Do you think Amazon will continue to use the Kiva robots even after the holiday season? Do you think the Kivas are going to get some upgrades in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
(h/t USA Today)