Let’s Be Thankful: Amazon’s Robot Hordes Have Doubled This Year

Can you believe it? The Earth has whirled around the sun yet again. Winter is coming, and sure as the seasons change and the geese go south, those glowing percentage signs on the screen are priming our species to begin the world’s greatest hunt—for deals.

Never has that process been easier.

Sure, some of us will line up early, jostling and fighting at the door of some favorite store. But many won’t bother leaving the warmth of hearth and home. Instead, the cyber world will make the most of technology. We’ll use laptops, smartphones, tablets, Google, PayPal, and Amazon to browse and buy lots and lots of stuff.

But that’s the world we all see and know. It’s what’s behind the scenes that’s fascinating.

Last year, Amazon said it was employing some 15,000 robot elves to help fulfill the expected tidal wave of holiday orders. Amazon’s robots resemble a Roomba, only they’re orange, weigh as much as an NFL offensive lineman, and can hoist and carry tall, 750-pound storage shelves shelves bristling with holiday gadgets and goodies.

Humans used to patrol the aisles, and they were pretty fast. But now the humans stay put and the robots play fetch, bringing shelves to pickers, who grab, spot check and package them up. Now that the shelves need no aisles, Amazon can pack in more goods per square foot—in the ballpark of 5 million different products and 26 million items total.

Amazon said it sold an insane 426 items every second last Cyber Monday. Maybe it’s not so surprising, then, that this year they’ve doubled down on robots.

As shoppers fill their digital carts this year, 30,000 robotic workers in 13 warehouses (they aren’t everywhere just yet) will jump to do their bidding. In case you’ve not seen it (or need a refresher), here’s a video of Amazon’s mechanical warehouse in action.

Happy holiday weekend!

Imaged Credit: Shutterstock.com

Jason Dorrier
Jason Dorrier
Jason is editorial director of Singularity Hub. He researched and wrote about finance and economics before moving on to science and technology. He's curious about pretty much everything, but especially loves learning about and sharing big ideas and advances in artificial intelligence, computing, robotics, biotech, neuroscience, and space.
Don't miss a trend
Get Hub delivered to your inbox