Amazon relies on the first fully autonomous robot and further automation

Amazon intends to further automate its shipping and warehouse operations. This was announced by the online mail order company on Wednesday. The first fully autonomous robot Proteus, which does its work independently and can move safely in its environment without endangering its human colleagues, is also to be used. The Cardinal parcel robot, AI-controlled scanning technology and a system for more ergonomic removal of items are also intended to ensure more safety and support for employees.

If robots are to move together with humans in dynamic environments, then safety aspects are the top priority in order to avoid accidents. Amazon has developed the fully autonomous mobile robot Proteus through its robot subsidiary Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems). In the future, it will help and automate in Amazon facilities such as fulfillment centers and sorting facilities, for example when lifting and transporting so-called GoCarts, non-automated package transport cages. Employees would then no longer have to move the heavy baskets manually and, according to Amazon, could “focus on more worthwhile tasks”.

Proteus automates GoCart handling.

Proteus receives instructions on where to take a GoCart. The robot then does the rest independently by moving under the transport cage, lifting it and driving to its destination and setting it down there. According to Amazon, it is not limited to specific security areas. Its safety, perception, and navigational abilities allow it to move among humans without compromising their safety. If its battery is low, it drives autonomously to a charging station.

The handling robot Cardinal is also intended to relieve employees when moving heavy packages of up to 22.7 kg. The risk of injury for employees is particularly high during rotary movements, writes Amazon. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision, Cardinal can pick packages from a stack, read the label and load them into a GoCart. This also works in a small space, as a video shows.

The GoCart is then transported further by Proteus. According to Amazon’s plan, both robots should automate GoCart handling throughout the network, speed up package sorting and processing time, and make shipping processes run more smoothly.

Cardinal moves heavy packages, Proteus takes care of the transport.

But that’s still music of the future. Because so far Amazon is only testing a prototype of Cardinal. It is expected to be used in fulfillment centers in 2023.

Package tracking at Amazon facilities is done through scans. This ensures that the whereabouts of a package can be traced at any time. Scanning is still done manually in fulfillment centers. Employees have to take a package from a container and manually scan it with a handheld scanner.

The AR ID automatically scans parcels when they are placed on a shelf.

Amazon wants to simplify and speed up this process. The Amazon Robotics Identification (AR ID) should contribute to this. The AI-supported system uses computer vision to localize and scan barcodes. The employees then only have to turn the package in such a way that the camera system used, which can capture 120 images per second, sees the barcode. Amazon states that this minimizes the risk of injury to employees. You could now hold and move parcels with both hands instead of one hand because there is no hand scanner.

Employees should also be relieved when removing products from containers. A containerized storage system should help. For this purpose, containers are sorted by robots and brought to the employees. You no longer have to reach into a shelf with the containers and bend down or stretch.

Robots pre-sort bins so workers can access products more easily.

Amazon emphasizes that the robots are not used to replace employees. Instead, the systems should be made safer for people and the work processes should be more ergonomic. There is also an acceleration of the settlement process.


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