When you think Amazon, you probably imagine books and freaky fast shipping. You probably don’t think about drones and robots, both of which have crept into the company’s fabric over the past year or so. In addition to preparing a Prime Air service which would (in theory) drop packages to your front door, the company has just rolled out its eighth-generation fulfillment center which relies on “robotics, vision systems, and high-end technology to speed up order delivery times for customers.”
Specifically, one of the stars is Kiva. Kiva is strolling around in 10 of these new centers across the United States, moving crates and generally making life easier for humans and faster for those ordering. All told, over 15,000 Kiva robots are operating in the U.S. alone, alongside Robo-Stow — one of Earth’s largest robotic arms moving large quantities of inventory for customer order fulfillment. Reports suggest that the implementation of these Kiva robots will slash operating costs by up to one-fifth, and will enable Amazon to get packages en route to their destination more quickly. Obviously, timing is critical here with the holiday season upon us.
Each Kiva weighs 320 pounds, scooting around on wheels and locating all sorts of wares from one corner of the warehouse to another. Kiva robots were initially deployed this summer in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington, and have enabled the company to “hold about 50 percent more items and shorten the time it takes to offer same-day delivery in several areas.”
Amazon actually purchased Kiva Systems back in 2012 for $775 million, and now we’re starting to see why. Let’s just hope they don’t develop a mind of their own.