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15,000 robots waiting for orders at Amazon

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Staff writer | Monday December 1, 2014 1:17PM ET
Amazon robots
Technology   Selling to the max

An army of 15,000 robots is ready to roll as prepares for Cyber Monday, its biggest day of the year.

In 2014, Amazon customers ordered more than 36.8 million items worldwide, a record-breaking 426 items per second, according to the company. This year, Amazon expects to surpass that. To pick and ship those items the company is launching a deployment of a robotic fulfillment system it tested last year.

Instead of having the pickers go to the items, the items will come to them. They are brought on the backs of Kiva robots that look a pet carriers on wheels. The Kiva robots bring the entire 7-foot shelving unit the item is on.

Amazon bought Kiva Systems for $775 million. The robots are one part of a complex software and hardware system that simplifies picking and packing at warehouses that can contain literally millions of items.

This shopping season, they will traverse the floors of 10 mammoth Amazon fulfillment centers in California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas and Washington state.

The Kiva software determines which items each packer at a packing station needs and in what order. It sends instructions to robots throughout the warehouse and tells them to bring the shelving units that contain those items to the packer.

Robots allow Amazon to double the inventory each fulfillment center can hold.


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