An army of robots is helping Amazon handle the holiday shopping season


Amazon spent $775 million acquiring Kiva systems in 2012 and now it’s ready to show off the fruits of its investment. Just in time for Cyber Monday, the company has revealed the eighth generation of its fulfilment centers with Kiva robots at the heart of the operations. The company has 15,000 Kiva robots operating in 10 new facilities across the US, many of which look like giant Roombas. It has also revealed the Robo-Stow, one of Earth’s largest robotic arms for moving vast quantities of inventory.

Amazon employee Rejinaldo Rosales used to wander stacks of shelves to pick up merchandize for orders before finally returning to his station to place them in bins and send them to their next stop. But this summer, squat orange robots, called Kiva, began zooming around the shelves instead, picking up goods and carrying them to him at his station. The result? What used to take hours of walking can happen in mere minutes instead. Rosales, 34, who works at an Amazon fulfillment center in this Central Valley city about an hour and a half away from San Francisco, said he likes his new robotic coworkers. While walking the aisles was “good cardio,” the new system lets him get through more orders since he stands in one place, he said. “We don’t socialize as much, but it’s more efficient,” Rosales said as the bots zipped around behind him on the eve of Cyber Monday, when Amazon showed off its latest generation of Kiva robots to a group of journalists.

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