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Amazon said during its first quarter 2023 financial results call that its Robin robot has handled one billion packages. Amazon is using Robin in warehouses in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Robin uses artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning to help employees handle and sort customer packages before shipping. For employees, this means reducing the number of repetitive tasks they have to complete, improving safety and helping them focus their time and energy on activities that better use their skills.
The robot picks packages from a conveyor belt with its suction gripper, scans them and then places them on a drive robot that routes them to the correct loading dock. Robin’s job is particularly difficult because of its rapidly changing environment. Unlike other robotic arms, Robin doesn’t just perform a series of pre-set motions, it responds to its environment in real time.
Robin also knows when it’s made a mistake. If it drops a package or accidentally puts two packages onto one sortation robot, Robin will try to correct the problem. If it can’t, then a human is called for intervention.
Robin isn’t the only robotic arm Amazon is developing. In November 2022, the company gave us a look at Sparrow, its latest item-picking robot. Unlike Robin, which picks and organizes packages to be sent out for delivery, Sparrow can handle individual products.
This also is a difficult task, especially in an Amazon warehouse where over 100 million different items need to be processed. Sparrow can pick 65% of them, according to the company. Sparrow can pick various items, like DVDs, socks and stuffed animals, but struggles with items with loose or complex packaging.
Amazon was awarded an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award from our sister publication Robotics Business Review for its progress on the Sparrow robot.