Brian Heater: Months before the hard-fought battle for its second global headquarters in Queens, Amazon planted a massive 855,00-quare-foot flag in Staten Island. The $100 million JFK Fulfillment Center opened last fall after an on-the-spot hiring spree aimed at employing an eventual 2,25- people. The space offers compelling glimpse into the factories of the future, where humans and robots work hand-in-hand, so to speak.
The company currently has around 100 000 robotic systems deployed across more then 25 fulfillment centers or number. It says it will help it store on additional 40% of inventory in its warehouses up a few flights, robots zoom across the floor in a tightly controlled space like giant Roombas.
The mobile robots were the heart of the company’s $775 million 2012 acquisition of Kiva, a Massachusetts-based start-up it would later name Amazon Robotics. The army of robots are walled in by fences that brings to mind nothing more than indoor battling cages.
Around the edges, Amazon employees work at pick-and-store stations, working alongside the robots to determine how best store inventory on the shelving pods and how items will be shipped out together. The fencing around the robots is designed specifically to keep, associates out of harm’s way. Humans are generally not allowed in the enclosed space for reasons of safety and efficiency.
But an imperfect system requires the occasioned interacting things fall out of pods. It’s for this reason that the company has introduced the Robotic Safety Vest. The Mesh Vest Includes a belt containing a variety of sensors that add a few pounds to the employees’s getup.
As more people buy products online these armies of robots will no doubt play an increasingly central role in meeting that demand.