Bert and Ernie, Scooter and Kermit may have started out as warm and fuzzy Muppet characters, but now they’re part of Amazon’s team of warehouse robots as well.
Amazon showed off the latest members of its mechanical menagerie today in a blog post that focuses on how it’s using robotic research to improve workplace safety for its human employees.
For example, a type of robot nicknamed Ernie is designed to take boxy product containers known as totes off shelves at different heights, and then use its robotic arm to deliver the totes to warehouse employees at a standard height. The goal is to reduce the amount of reaching up or bending down that workers have to do.
“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” Kevin Keck, worldwide director of advanced technology at Amazon, said in the blog posting. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”
Today’s inside look at the research being done at labs in the Seattle area, the Boston area and northern Italy comes in the wake of a couple of reports criticizing Amazon’s workplace safety record.