E-commerce giants employ human robotic collaboration
April 05, 2017
E-commerce giants such as Amazon are turning to human robotic collaboration to increase efficiency in their warehouse operations
(VERO BEACH, FLA) In a new bid to keep up with the exponential growth in the e-commerce delivery industry, companies are creating robots to assist warehouse employees.
The warehouse robots are programmed to compliment rather than replace their human counterparts, a distinct shift from an industry philosophy of automation providing necessary increases in efficiencies with machines alone.
One such company employing these human-robot collaborative teams is Quiet Logistics. Based in Devens, MA, the company first used robots created by Kiva Systems — bought by Amazon in 2012 –to complete its apparel shipping orders.
After Kiva’s acquisition by one of Quiet’s major competitors, the company decided to hire scientists, and in 2015 after raising $8 million in venture capital they founded a subsidiary company called Locus Robotics.
Through this spin off they created their own proprietary warehouse robot named LocusBot, and have now landed DHL Worldwide Express, the world’s largest third-party logistics company, as a customer.
According to Bloomberg, DHL will use the machines at a South Haven, MS, location to help ship surgical devices to operating rooms across the country.
“The first trend was to try to replace humans,” Locus Robotics CEO Rick Faulk told Bloomberg. “Now it’s about humans and robots working collaboratively.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics this race for robotic human collaboration in the shipping logistics industry has created a flurry of new jobs, with 939,000 people working in the sector as of February 2017, an increase of 44 percent over the last 10 years.
The $35,000 LocusBot was showcased this week at the Chicago industry trade show ProMat along with similar robots from Amazon, 6 River Systems, and Fetch.
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