Amazon has announced its “first fully autonomous mobile robot” designed to move large carts around its warehouses. The robot is called Proteus and Amazon says it can safely move around human employees, unlike some of its previous robots, which it kept separated in a cage.
Amazon says Proteus robots have “advanced safety, perception and navigation technology” and (strangely quiet) video shows robots glowing green in front of them as they move. When a person steps into the beam, the robot stops moving and then resumes as the person moves away.
The company also announced several other robotic systems. One, called Cardinal, is a robotic arm that can lift and move packages weighing up to 50 pounds, which Amazon hopes to place in warehouses next year. The company says its computer vision systems allow it to select and pick up individual packages, even if they are stacked.
Amazon publication is also displayed technology that can allow employees to give up the handheld scanners they use to register barcodes. Instead, workers stand in front of a camera system that recognizes packets without stopping to scan the label. There aren’t many details about how it works, except for some combination of machine learning and a camera system of 120 frames per second, but the effect is similar to the one we saw from the company Just exit technology which allows him to build stores without a cash register. We have contacted Amazon to ask what exactly the system is looking at and we will let you know if we receive a response.
As is often the case with new robot technology, there are potential labor problems. Despite recent reports that Amazon it may soon be difficult to find workers, the company says it is not looking to create robots instead of hiring people. Leader in Amazon’s robotics department explicitly stated Forbes that “replacing people with machines is just a delusion” that can lead to the closure of a company. However, robots could play a role in determining the pace of work that people struggle to keep safe, something we are already seen happening in the company with automated control systems. The new scanning system in particular seems to create unrealistic expectations about how fast workers need to move.
For its part, Amazon claims that all of its new robots could actually help improve safety. Cardinal works in places where workers would otherwise lift and twist heavy packages, a movement that can lead to injuries, and Proteus can “reduce the need for people to move heavy objects by hand.” The company is also working on a robot that would deliver containers to workers instead of forcing them to bend or climb to reach objects.
Chief Executive Officer of Amazon recently promised to turn systematically the degree of injuries in the company’s warehouses, although he minimized reports that its workers were injured in twice as high as the industry calling the company’s prices “misunderstood.”