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Robots Take Over Amazon
By: Jennifer Graber
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The news of a robot takeover sounds like something straight out of a science fiction movie. It can strike fear in the hearts of many. We immediately have visions of artificial intelligence gone horribly wrong. But this is nothing of that sort. We will not be seeing Cyborg Monday anytime soon, at least not for Amazon. The online giant hasn't been taken over by robots; instead, just in time for Cyber Monday. Amazon employed 15,000 robots for the mega online retail day.
 
Back in 2012, Amazon invested $775 million into the acquisition of Kiva Systems. Kiva Systems is a start-up company based out of Massachusetts that designs “warehouse robots and software to automate the most mundane parts of filling online orders.” For the most part, Amazon has been pretty mum for the last couple of years on what it was doing with the acquisition and its plans.
 
However, shortly before Cyber Monday, Amazon gave the public a sneak peek at its plans for 15,000 robots distributed across ten warehouses. The automated systems, weighing in at 320 pounds and one foot tall, are designed to assist Amazon in its efficiency. The robots will help the online retail giant fill orders in a matter of mere minutes in some of its newer buildings. Amazon’s older warehouse buildings will still move at a quick pace, by our standards, and have orders filled in approximately two hours.
 
The Kiva robots will assist in both the storing and picking processes for Amazon. When inventory arrives at the robot-equipped warehouses, the products will be automatically placed in storage by the robots. Then, when it comes time to fulfill an order, the robots will also automatically retrieve the requested products.

There are several advantages to having the Kiva robots do these simpler tasks. One such advantage is the speed and automation. The robots can move much quicker, with greater ease, and can carry more product than a human worker. The Kiva robots can carry a shelving unit that weighs up to 750 pounds. The robot systems will swiftly bring products directly to the human workers. The workers no longer have to go to the items, the items come to them.
 
Another advantage to the Kiva robots is that they can provide Amazon with a greater range for storage space. The robots require less space to move between storage areas. Therefore, the online company can place storage units and areas closer together. This increases the amount of products that Amazon can store in its warehouses, which then increases customer satisfaction. There is a reduction in wait time in obtaining a product, and consumers are less likely to be shown the scary "out of stock" message.
 
However, the Kiva robots are not taking over the whole Amazon world just yet. The robot systems are simply aiding in the easier, less "complicated" tasks. Amazon’s human life forms will still be involved in the more complex tasks, such as selecting the correct product and inspecting it for quality.
 
So, in this case, a robot takeover is a good thing. Amazon used technology just before the busiest online shopping day that would streamline its business, and the benefit of the installation of the Kiva robots will go far beyond Cyber Monday. They will propel the online giant into future growth and efficiency.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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