Amazon is set to launch four new warehouse robots aimed at minimising injuries just weeks after a damning report found workers got injured at far higher rates than other companies.
Amazon is testing a number of new high-tech autonomous robots to help manoeuvre goods across facilities, take items off shelves and remove strenuous repetitive jobs from workers.
It comes after The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, published a report earlier this month revealing that Amazon employees injury rates were nearly double those of rivals.
A month earlier Amazon had pledged to reduce the number of recordable incident rates by 50 per cent by 2025, investing $300 million into projects throughout this year.
This investment has driven the development of its new robots, two of which are named “Bert” and “Ernie”.
Ernie is a robotic arm or “workstation system” designed to pick totes from Amazon’s mobile shelves, helping reduce the need for reach up of bend down when retrieving items, “and thus limit more strenuous movement”.
While Ernie, like all of Amazon’s robots currently in operation, can only work in a dedicated zone, Bert will be one of the retailer’s first “Autonomous Mobile Robots” (AMRs) able to navigate entire facilities autonomously.
Bert is a trolley-like robot which is designed to help transport awkward of heavy goods across warehouses, again lessening the strain on employees.
Amazon is also developing “Autonomous Guided Cart” robots, called “Kermit” and “Scooter”, which transport carts full of empty totes and packages through the facility.
“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” Amazon’s worldwide director of Advanced Technology Kevin Keck said.
“The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”