Trenton, New Jersey, isn't the industrial powerhouse it once was, even if the slogan "Trenton Makes, the World Takes," first installed in 1935, still stands in 10-foot-tall letters across a bridge that spans the Delaware River to Pennsylvania. But a few minutes east of town, inside a warehouse belonging to Amazon, there are signs of another industrial transformation. Amazon's fulfillment center, located in the township of Robbinsville, is a dizzying hive of activity, with humans and machines working in carefully coördinated harmony. Besides showing the incredible efficiencies of Amazon's operations, the factory hints at how, over the coming decades, technology may start to assist human workers with many simple manual tasks. How far this change goes, and how quickly it comes about, could make a significant difference to the labor market (see "Who Will Own the Robots?").
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) organized an exclusive conference this week in Palm Springs, California, that focused on robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), space exploration, and home automation, according to Bloomberg Business and reports from attendees. The event was called MARS, which stands for Machine-Learning Automation, Robotics and Space Exploration. Some of the guests on the invite-only list came from robotics companies such as Rethink Robotics, educational institutions like MIT, research institutes like ETH Zurich, and carmakers such as Toyota. Around 130 people were invited to the cozy affair. Much of the event is still shrouded in mystery.
Amazon has added more soldiers to its robot army over the past year. The e-commerce giant now has 45,000 robots shuffling products around 20 distributions centers. This is a 50 percent increase from the 2015 holiday season when the company reported 30,000 robots were working side-by-side with 230,000 human employees. Amazon has added more soldiers to its robot army over the past year. The e-commerce giant now has 45,000 robots shuffling products around 20 distributions centers.
Amazon is rolling out self-driving delivery robots. The internet giant announced Wednesday that six'Scout' robots will deliver packages to customers in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington. Each Scout robot is a squat, bright blue device that gets around on six wheels. The battery-powered devices about the size of a small cooler and can deliver packages autonomously. And city or suburban dwellers don't have to worry about Scout running them over on the street, as Amazon says the robots'roll along sidewalks at a walking pace.'
Amazon acquired Kiva for 775 million in 2012 but only started using the orange robots in its warehouses in late 2014. The deal was expected to make inventory management more efficient. It's now beginning to become clear by how much. The "click to ship" cycle used to be around 60-75 minutes when employees had manually to sift through the stacks, pick the product, pack it, and ship it. Now, robots handle the same job in 15 minutes, according to a Deutsche Bank note published Tuesday (June 14) based on Amazon's metrics.