Amazon Shows Off Impressive New Warehouse Robots
Proteus is our first fully autonomous mobile robot. Historically, it’s been difficult to safely incorporate robotics in the same physical space as people. We believe Proteus will change that while remaining smart, safe, and collaborative.
Proteus autonomously moves through our facilities using advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology developed by Amazon. The robot was built to be automatically directed to perform its work and move around employees—meaning it has no need to be confined to restricted areas. It can operate in a manner that augments simple, safe interaction between technology and people—opening up a broader range of possible uses to help our employees—such as the lifting and movement of GoCarts, the nonautomated, wheeled transports used to move packages through our facilities.
Fabric Micro-Fulfillment Center in Dallas, Texas
Amazon Robotics Builds Digital Twins of Warehouses with NVIDIA Omniverse and Isaac Sim
Automation: Why software is the star
As fulfillment centers and warehouses become more highly automated facilities with multiple types of automation, software’s role looms larger. Issues like coordinating multiple systems around cut-off times and service levels, as well as knowing when and how to scale automated systems to accommodate peaks in demand, are two leading reasons why.
One way a warehouse execution system (WES) coordinates the allocation of work across automated systems is with smart order release, which instead of the big “waves” of work, releases work to systems in smaller chunks with the current status and capacity of multiple zones of automation in mind. This order release function can be thought of as the starting point for orchestration, with WES’s ties to lower-level control systems alerting of any unexpected events, or bottlenecks, that might be developing, with some software offering “load balancing” features to help adjust to the present reality on the floor.
With robotics solutions, software plays at multiple levels. Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) vendors, for example, don’t just make robots, they also offer fleet manager software, performance monitoring and analytics. Some vendors are also expanding into broader orchestration with functions like pack-out lines. Of course, artificial intelligence (AI) is in many robotics solutions, so the system can continuously learn over time when it comes to issues like path optimization, or how to best grasp and manipulate items.
Ocado showcases 3D printing innovation
Ocado has unveiled a new approach to building the robots in its fulfilment centres, which it hopes will dramatically improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. The company has developed a 600 Series bot, which it said can be built cheaper and is lighter than the current 500 Series bot. According to Steiner, the 600 Series grocery fulfilment bot “changes everything”. Ocado designed the 600 Series using topology optimisation, similar to the technique used in the aerospace sector to make aircraft parts strong but light. It then used additive manufacturing, in partnership with HP, to make 3D prints of the parts required to build the 600 Series.
Anduril nets biggest DoD contract to date: Signifier or outlier for defense start-ups?
Anduril will serve as a systems integrator partner on SOCOM’s counter-unmanned systems efforts. The contract is worth a maximum of $967,599,957 over the next the decade. Under the contract, SOCOM will be able to purchase Anduril’s systems through traditional means, in addition to buying Anduril’s products as a service, meaning the command can configure the system “based on mission profiles and ensuring SOCOM can rapidly adapt to new and evolving threat profiles.”
Anduril has made major strides in the last year positioning itself to win major defense contracts and augment its technology portfolio. Last year, it acquired Area-I, a tube-launched unmanned aerial system maker. Last summer, the company won a five-year, $99 million production other transaction agreement with the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit for its counter-drone tech.
How warehouse automation robotics transformed the supply chain
This technology reduces the cost per vehicle and helped teams redesign the factory to be more efficient. “Navigating vehicles around a manufacturing facility is costly, challenging and prone to human error,” said Jerone Floor, vice president of products and solutions at Seoul Robotics. AI-enabled warehouse orchestration engines can also improve coordination between robots and humans. Experts like Vecna Robotics’ Cherewka believe this has become increasingly important when facing new global supply chain challenges and growing consumer demands.
Medicine piece-picking robot for Hitachi Transport System
In Amazon’s Flagship Fulfillment Center, the Machines Run the Show
More than the physical robots, the stars of Amazon’s facilities are the algorithms—sets of computer instructions designed to solve specific problems. Software determines how many items a facility can handle, where each product is supposed to go, how many people are required for the night shift during the holiday rush, and which truck is best positioned to get a stick of deodorant to a customer on time. “We rely on the software to help us make the right decisions,” says Shobe, BFI4’s general manager.
When managers wanted to figure out how many people they needed at each station to keep up with customer orders, they once used Excel and their gut. Then, starting in about 2014, the company flew spreadsheet jockeys from warehouses around the country to Seattle and put them in a conference room with software engineers, who distilled their work and automated it. The resulting AutoFlow program was clunky at first, spitting out recommendations to put half an employee at one station and half an employee at another, recalls David Glick, a former Amazon logistics executive who supervised initial development of the software. Eventually the system learned that humans can’t be split in half.