October 16, 2021

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Amazon Begins Testing of New Warehouse Robot Employees to Improve Workplace Safety

Amazon Begins Testing of New Warehouse Robot Employees to Improve Workplace Safety

Robotic technology has become an integral part of the manufacturing or production processes, packaging, and streamlining workflow, among others. In a similar scenario, tech giant Amazon’s warehouse will have two new robot employees named Ernie and Bert. Amazon is currently testing the new robots to improve safety of warehouse workers and minimize strenuous movements of the workers.

Amazon has several fulfilment centers across the globe wherein employees pick or keep items onto shelves as a part of the order fulfillment process. Amazon is examining a new workstation system, Ernie, which moves a part of the robotic shelf and delivers products through a robotic arm to the employees to ensure they remain in comfortable and ergonomic position and efficiently minimize the probability for employees to carry out strenuous activities such as reaching up or bending down to retrieve items. Bert, first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) developed by Amazon, is being assessed to autonomously and seamlessly navigate across warehouse facilities with Amazon’s advanced technology of safety, perception, and navigation. According to the company, Bert will eliminate the need for robots to be limited to restricted areas and the employees will be able to call Bert to transport items across the warehouse and fulfilment centers. Over time and with more advancements, Bert will also be able to carry heavy loads. According to global director of Advanced Technology at Amazon, Kevin Keck, robotics and advanced technology are playing a major role in making facilities safer as the company is increasing focus on employees’ safety and health. Scooter and Kermit are two other ARMs in development that transport carts and will take over the task of moving empty packages across the facilities, thereby reducing physically strenuous tasks.

Amazon is testing out these robots to handle packages and make other tasks safer for employees in light of recent analysis that suggested rate of injuries is higher in Amazon warehouse workers as compared to other companies. Amazon recently announced the goal of minimizing recordable incident rates by nearly half by 2025 and will invest approximately USD 300 million to develop safety projects this year.