Much has been made in the press of Amazon's Kiva robots, the small-but-mighty Roomba-sized machines that carry entire racks loaded up with products. Here's some cool footage of them in action at Amazon's latest eight-generation fulfillment center:
While the Kiva units mean human workers no longer have to walk the aisles—instead the shelves come to them—the Kivas won't replace humans anytime soon at Amazon's fulfillment centers. A look inside the inventory receiving area, below, reveals why.
The product designers among you are well familiar with the design and manufacturing processes behind a product. But how many of you are familiar with the last mile before they get to an end user's house? Ever picture your slaved-over items being transferred in and out of different cardboard boxes and riding a series of conveyor belts? That process—and particularly how they are packaged for shipment to the fulfillment center—also requires careful design.
In this look at how Amazon has to deal with incoming shipments, we see why humans are still needed: To deal with the screw-ups made by other humans.