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Amazon has new robots joining its warehouse workforce


While Amazon Astro started carrying drinks from room to room in select homes this year, two new worker robots will begin transporting and sorting boxes in the company’s warehouses in 2023. On Wednesday, Amazon gave a first look at Proteus and Cardinal, which according to the company may reduce the risk of injury warehouse workers.

Proteus, for example, is Amazon’s “first fully autonomous mobile robot” and looks like a large lime-green Roomba, while Cardinal is stationary and essentially a long arm with suction cups instead of hands. Amazon wants the robots to reduce the amount of heavy lifting and other strenuous physical work performed by employees.

In a blog post, the company highlighted its 10 years of experience with robotic technology and its use in warehouses. Unlike previous automated designs that raised security concerns, Amazon said, Proteus was specifically programmed to move through the same physical spaces as humans. Amazon said the robot is independent and does its job automatically without interfering with employees. Proteus is designed to lift and transport wheeled bins used to move packages around the warehouse.

Using a combination of computer vision and artificial intelligence, Cardinal helps with sorting. He can pull one package at a time from a queue, read its label, and place it on the correct wheelie bin to continue the shipping process. Amazon said the robot would reduce the risk of injury to employees who would normally twist or turn their bodies to move heavy loads. Cardinal is currently tested to lift packages weighing up to 50 pounds. Amazon plans to start using the robots in its facilities by next year.

The company hoped to allay fears of a Skynet-like robot uprising where humans would no longer be part of the workforce. Although Amazon wants to reduce manual labor in areas such as sorting and scanning packages, the company said it aims to have employees and robots work together while mitigating safety and security risks. injuries resulting from activities such as climbing ladders and pulling large packages.

CNET

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