Proteus is Amazon’s first fully autonomous warehouse robot

by mcdix

In a post on the past ten years since the robotics company bought Kiva, Amazon has unveiled its new machines, including its first fully autonomous warehouse robot. It’s called Proteus and is designed to move around Amazon’s facilities under its power while carrying carts full of packages. The company said the robot uses “advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology” it has developed to do its job without interfering with human workers. It sends out a green beam in front of it as it moves, and it stops when a human worker steps in front of the shaft. In the video Amazon posted, you can see Proteus moving under the carts and transporting them to other locations.

Proteus is Amazon's first fully autonomous warehouse robot

Amazon’s goal is to automate handling parcel carts so that human employees don’t have to move them through its facilities manually. The e-commerce giant even emphasized that its robots are designed to create a safer workplace for people. “From the early days of the Kiva acquisition, our vision was never tied to a binary decision of people or technology. Instead, it was about people and technology working together securely and harmoniously to help our customers,” it wrote.

Another new robot called Cardinal was also designed to reduce the risk of worker injury. Cardinal is a robotic arm that picks up packages, reads the labels, and then places them in the correct cart for the next stage of the shipping process. Artificial intelligence and computer vision enable it to sort packages correctly. Amazon is testing a prototype that can lift boxes of up to 50 pounds and expects to deploy the robotic arm in fulfillment centers next year.

Amazon explained that its camera runs at 120 frames per second and is powered by computer vision and machine learning technology. Finally, the company has also revealed that it is working on an AI technology that can automatically scan packages. Currently, workers have to scan barcodes on parcels with handheld scanners – with this technology, that is no longer necessary. With this scanning capability, human workers don’t have to pause while sorting boxes: the system can quickly recognize a lot as it passes the camera.

An Amazon robotics leader told Forbes that “replacing humans with machines is just a misconception” that could result in a company going bankrupt. The e-commerce giant has introduced several robots over the years and has always emphasized that its goal is to improve warehouse security. The Verge points out that the company isn’t looking to replace human workers. However, a recently leaked internal report shows the company expects to “deplete the available labor supply in the U.S. network by 2024.” Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, has selected all products Engadget recommends. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.

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