Amazon has unveiled a new industrial robotic arm that the company says is capable of handling “millions of diverse products”.
The internet retail giant describes the Sparrow robot as a new intelligent robotic system that streamlines the fulfillment process by moving individual products before they get packaged – a major technological advancement to support our employees.
Over the past decade, Amazon has been at the forefront of innovation, making significant investments in robotics and advanced technology within its operations.
The company’s dedicated teams of roboticists, engineers, software developers, and other experts have been developing solutions that enabled Amazon to automate fundamental capabilities – like how it moves, handles, sorts, identifies, and stores products.
A critical part of Amazon’s fulfillment process happens before items are even packaged for shipment to customers. Sophisticated technology moves totes to employees who select inventory to be packaged.
Once the items are boxed up, Amazon’s existing robotic arms – like Robin and its recently launched Cardinal – can then redirect packages to various locations in the warehouse before they begin their delivery journey.
Amazon says that, in its focus on robotics, “we knew we had an opportunity to dig deeper into research and development to support individual product handling”.
The world’s largest online retailer has millions of products of all shapes and sizes in its inventory, and it recognized the opportunity to invent new technology that could help handle them at Amazon’s scale.
Amazon says Sparrow “significantly advances item handling in our operations”, and is the first robotic system in its warehouses that can detect, select, and handle individual products in its inventory.
“Sparrow represents a major advancement in the state-of-the-art technology of industrial robotics,” adds Amazon. “Leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence, Sparrow can recognize and handle millions of items.”
Last year, Amazon employees around the world picked, stowed, or packed approximately 5 billion packages – or more than 13 million packages per day. Robotics technology enables Amazon to “work smarter, not harder, to operate efficiently and safely”.
It’s unlikely that Amazon will sell or supply its robots to other companies.