The robot revolution clock is ticking louder

Marc Sanchez Mar 20, 2012

Amazon announced that it purchased robot maker Kiva Systems, which specializes in robots used in shipping centers. It stands to reason that Amazon will soon staff its shipping centers with an army of cigar-chomping, union-organizing, burly warehouse robots.
Actually the robots are cute, little, orange discs with wheels. They act more as automated pallet jacks than anything else.

The Wall Street Journal explains: “Kiva’s robots bring the product shelves to a warehouse worker, rather than a worker walking to the shelves. The robots locate the items in a customer’s order, move the products around warehouses and help get packed boxes to a final loading dock.”

Theoretically, a worker can fill three times as many orders with the shelf-moving robots than without. Amazon isn’t the only company using the robots either, which means not only does it get the advantage of automating its warehouses, it gets to sell the technology to other companies and make a tidy little profit.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.