Automation: Amazon Doubles the Number of Kiva Warehouse Robots
November 03, 2015, 07:02 AM
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Christmas is coming, and the online shopping megastore is revving up to send packages even faster by increasing the number of robot warehouse transporters from 15,000 at the end of last year to 30,000 now in its 13 “fulfillment centers.” The company believes that more of the amazing Kiva robots will enable it to ship its increasing volume of merchandise more rapidly.

Interestingly, Amazon is hiring up a storm, even with the added automation, although you have to wonder how many workers would be needed if there were no robots. The company added 39,300 employees during the most recent quarter and total workforce stands at 222,400.

The increased hiring looks like it will be temporary over the longer term, however, because Amazon is working to develop a picker robot that can discern, grasp and pack various objects, which is the job that humans perform now. The Amazon Picking Challenge is a yearly competition to develop a machine that can replace the humans, and Hitachi already has a potential contender.

America’s economy is still losing jobs all the time to automation, a trend that was accelerated by the recession, where millions of jobs were lost to smart machines.

Certainly given the automated future of the industrialized world and its shrinking jobs universe, neither America nor Europe needs to import immigrant workers. For example, the tech researcher firm Gartner estimates that one-third of jobs will be done by smart machines by 2025.

Furthermore, adding millions to the jobless angry underclass makes civil unrest far more likely. Wouldn’t it be better to avoid future Ferguson-style riots in Spanish by seriously decreasing immigration?

Get your Amazon packages shipped to your home faster thanks to 30,000 Kiva robots, New York Daily News, October 26, 2015

Amazon Robotics, formerly Kiva Systems, now has 30,000 robots working in 13 of its fulfillment centers across the country.

Amazon will now have your orders delivered twice as fast thanks to its robot army — which is now 30,000 strong.

The Seattle-based e-commerce company bought Kiva Systems for $775 million back in 2012, and the number of robots working across 13 of its fulfillment centers had increased to 15,000 by the end of 2014, according to VentureBeat.

“Capital intensity is offset by their density and throughput, so it’s a bit of an investment that has implications for a lot of elements of our cost structure, but we’re happy with Kiva,” Phil Hardin, Amazon’s director of investor relations, said in an earnings call.

The Kiva robot — a square-shaped, orange machine that runs on wheels — weighs in at more than 320 pounds and stands 1.3 feet tall, Business Insider reported.

The robots can operate at 5 mph and carry packages that weight up to 700 pounds.

“We think it’s a great pairing of our associates with Kiva robots that do some of the hauling of products within the warehouses,” Hardin continued.

“It has been a great innovation for us, and we think it makes the warehouse jobs better, and we think it makes our warehouses more effective.”