The Robot Opportunity

#artificialintelligence 

In the 1990s, fashion's relationship with robots was the stuff of fantasy. On the runway of Alexander McQueen's imaginative Spring/Summer 1999 show, two robotic arms spray-painted a white dress worn by Shalom Harlow. Today, the industry's relationship with automation is much more practical. In the distribution centres of e-commerce giants like the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group and Amazon (which, in 2012, paid $775 million to acquire Kiva Systems, a manufacturer of robotic fulfilment systems used by Gap, Gilt Groupe and Saks 5th Avenue) software-controlled robots routinely navigate giant warehouses, picking and transporting inventory faster and more accurately than humans, enabling services like same-day delivery. "Automated storage and retrieval systems provide high storage density as well as inventory accuracy and management, yet require a smaller footprint," explains Steve Crease, director of operations at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, which uses ASRS to deliver its "key service level" of same-day delivery.