Amazon.com Inc has installed more than 15,000 robots across 10 U.S. warehouses, a move that promises to cut operating costs by one-fifth and get packages out the door more quickly in the run-up to Christmas.
The orange 320-pound (145 kg) robots, which scoot around the floor on wheels, show how Amazon has adopted technology developed by Kiva Systems, a robotics company it bought for $775 million in 2012. Amazon showcased to media on Sunday ahead of Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.
The robots are designed to help the leading U.S. online retailer speed the time it takes to deliver items to customers and better compete with brick-and-mortar stores, where the bulk of Americans still do their shopping.
The robots also may help Amazon avoid the mishaps of last year’s holiday season, when a surge of packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS and delayed the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe. Amazon offered shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate customers.
Amazon deployed the robots this summer, ahead of the key holiday quarter, when the company typically books about one-third of its annual revenue. The updated warehouses are in five states — California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington. More