Amazon on Wednesday introduced The first fully automated mobile robot for the warehouse. The robot, called Proteus, will soon be deployed in fulfillment centers and sorting centers, 10 years after Amazon launched its robotics business with its acquisition of robotics company Kiva Systems.
The e-commerce giant has long said its ultimate aim is to build warehouse robots working “next to” people instead of replacing them. Unlike other warehouse robots, Proteus can actually safely work “next to” humans.
“Historically, it has been difficult to safely combine robots in the same physical space as humans,” Amazon explains in blog post. “We believe Proteus will change that while remaining smart, secure and collaborative.”
With advanced navigation, awareness and safety technology, Proteus can automatically move around people while doing its job, so it doesn’t have to be confined to confined areas.
The robot, which looks like a Roomba, will first be deployed to handle GoCarts – non-automated, wheeled carts used to move packages through facilities. It slides right under the GoCart, lifting it up and taking it where it needs to be. Amazon says such automation of GoCart handling will reduce the need for people to manually move heavy items through a facility.
Amazon also shared that it is prototyping a robotic arm called Cardinal, which can handle packages up to 50 pounds. It uses AI and computer vision to select a package from among many, pick it up, read the label, and correctly place it in the GoCart. Using Cardinal speeds up package processing times by converting batch-based manual work into continuous, automated work.
Amazon expects to roll out the technology at fulfillment centers within the next year.