Amazon's New "Pinch-Grasp" Warehouse Robot Can Handle 1,000 Items an Hour - Modern Distribution Management

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Amazon’s New “Pinch-Grasp” Warehouse Robot Can Handle 1,000 Items an Hour

3D modeling and machine learning power the new development that aims to increase efficiency in Amazon's fulfillment centers.
KENOSHA, WI,USA - JUNE 19, 2021 - Amazon warehouse facility exterior and trademark logo.

Amazon appears to be making progress towards its goal of implementing robotic systems in its warehouses. A recent video published by the company’s science blog teases a new “pinch-grasping” robot system that could eventually perform much of the work humans do today — or, at the very least, make workers’ jobs easier and more efficient.

“[We] have an incredible opportunity to help advance the science of robotic manipulation in ways that meaningfully benefit our employees and our customers,” Amazon director of Robotics AI Siddhartha Srinivasa said in a press statement. “Our investments in robotics and technology are helping make jobs in our facilities better, easier, and safer, as well as creating new career opportunities for our people.”

The robotic arm seen in the video can pick up a new item every three seconds. It can handle more than 1,000 items an hour, according to Amazon, and requires no human direction. The robot has multiple cameras that help “see” the items in front of it, is programmed to learn the best way to pick up an item and has motion-planning algorithms to ensure the robot doesn’t damage any of the items.

This robot prototype, which was created in a controlled lab by Amazon technologists late last year, can only move items weighing less than two pounds. The two-pound weight restriction would still allow the robot to grasp and move about half of Amazon’s total product assortment, but the company is working on grasping solutions that would be able to handle any Amazon item.

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