The use of robotic technology isn’t that uncommon these days. However, Amazon is taking that technology to a new level. According to a blog post by Amazon, the company is set to get ‘robot’ employees to make the workplace safer.
Amazon has fulfilment centres in several parts of the world. Currently, employees pick or stow items onto mobile shelves as products move through the process of fulfilling customer orders. To potentially reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable, stable, and ergonomically friendly position.
“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology, Amazon. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees,” said Keck in the blog post.
The other ‘robot’ employee is Bert, one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots, or AMRs. AMRs like Bert, which is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology, could change that, claims Amazon.
Amazon said that with Bert, robots no longer need to be confined to restricted areas. This means that in the future, an employee could summon Bert to carry items across a facility. Furthermore, Bert might at some point be able to move larger, heavier items or carts that are used to transport multiple packages through our facilities. By taking those movements on, Bert could help lessen the strain on employees, Amazon noted in the blog post.
“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority,” he added.