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Amazon Reveals Humanoid Robot, Sorting Technology

Amazon VP of Amazon Robotics Scott Dresser shared last week in a blog post that it has launched two robot solutions to increase efficiency in its fulfillment centers: Digit, a bipedal robot that works collaboratively with employees on myriad tasks, and Sequoia, a technology that speeds up order fulfillment.

Amazon Robotics’ Digit is in development at a site near Seattle. It is a mobile robot modeled after the human body that can move, grasp, and handle items. The initial use for the technology is to help employees with tote recycling, a process wherein totes are redirected once inventory is sorted out of them. Dresser noted that more opportunities will open down the line for the robot to work collaboratively with employees.

The creation of a humanoid robot has sparked concerns about the effect it may have on Amazon’s workforce of almost 1.5 million, reports The Guardian.

In an interview, however, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics Tye Brady assured that, although the technology may make some jobs redundant, it will also create new job opportunities.

“We will always need people… I’ve never been around an automated system that works 100% of the time. I don’t think you have as well,” said Brady. “People are so central to the fulfillment process [because of] the ability to think at a higher level, [and] the ability to diagnose problems."

Sequoia helps to identify and store fulfillment center inventory as it reaches the facility 75 percent faster than without the technology as well as reducing the time it takes to process orders through fulfillment centers by up to 25 percent. Dresser shared that the robot will help to improve shipping predictability and increase the volume of products offered for Same-day and Next-Day shipping.

The robot operates by containerizing inventory into totes that then come directly to employees.

“Working as a set of integrated robotics systems, Sequoia will dramatically simplify and optimize how we store goods and help employees pick those goods in a safe way,” wrote Dresser. “This feat comes thanks to the ingenuity of our technology teams as well as the partnership and regular feedback we get from operations employees about how we can use automation to make our workplace better.”

Sequoia is currently being used at a fulfillment center in Houston. Full Story

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