Amazon's new warehouse robot looks like a Roomba, but it lifts like an Olympic athlete.

The company's first fully autonomous robot comes a decade after Amazon bought robot development and coordination company Kiva (opens in a new tab) and made its first nearly $XNUMX billion bet on robotic automation.

Amazon now employs around 200 robots (opens in a new tab) in its 000 fulfillment centers (opens in a new tab) but, until now, robots have never worked freely alongside human workers at Amazon.

Proteus, however, is different. In a statement about the new bot (opens in a new tab), Amazon explained that Proteus was designed for autonomy and to work with employees.

Amazon also released a video showing Proteus in action. Looking like a giant iRobot Roomba, but with cute monochrome eyes flashing up front, the flat robot rolls under an Amazon GoCart filled with goods (essentially, a cage of goods). The robot rolls into what is supposed to be the center space below the car, turns 90 degrees, and then lifts the entire car off the ground. Amazon doesn't say the robot's maximum lifting capacity, but it's clearly lifting a heavy weight like there's a lot of dust on the floor.

The load is also perfectly balanced so that when Proteus moves forward, the cart won't tip over or tip over. Later, it navigates to a charging station and plugs in.

To demonstrate Proteus' cooperative nature, the robot casually stops when a human worker crosses its path. They appear to stare at each other for a moment before they each continue on their way.

This is all made possible, Amazon says, by the company's advanced and patented navigation, perception and security technology.

For now, Proteus is confined to Amazon warehouses with GoCart handling areas, but the retail giant plans to expand Proteus across its entire inventory and fulfillment network.

Proteus won't be the only new Amazon robot on the floor. The company also introduced Cardinal (opens in a new tab), a one-armed robot that, using artificial intelligence and computer vision, can identify, lift, and sort heavy packages (up to 50 pounds).

the land of the bots

Our reliance on Amazon has skyrocketed in recent years as we struggled with the limitations placed on all of us by COVID-19. Even if the pandemic subsides, Amazon remains at the center of our shopping habits.

The company raised $470.000 billion last year (opens in a new tab) and is clearly using some of those profits to transform its logistics center workforce into more automated spaces. It is perhaps no coincidence that these efforts come as Amazon grapples with the rise of unionized workers (opens in a new tab) at some of its warehouses.

Amazon's robots aren't meant to replace workers, but some of that is bound to happen as the Cardinals take over lifting and sorting heavy boxes and Proteus manages the transportation of thousands of GoCarts filled with the products we all order every day. .

One thing is certain, each and every Amazon bot is about to go live for Amazon Prime Day.

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