DYK Amazon has over a 100,000 robots in its warehouses? With that much robotic firepower it is important to ensure that the machines play nice with the human employees. Their latest solution is the “Robotic Tech Vest” – a bit of a kit that warehouse workers can wear to make them visible to nearby machines.
Usually, Amazon’s robots tote shelves of goods around in a cordoned-off area where they can’t run into employees. If a robot breaks down or drops any items a human has to enter that area to put things right. “In the past, associates would mark out the grid of cells where they would be working in order to enable the robotic traffic planner to smartly route around that region,” Amazon’s VP of robotics, Brad Porter, told TechCrunch. “What the vest allows the robots to do is detect the human from farther away and smartly update its travel plan to steer clear without the need for the associate to explicitly mark out those zones.”
The Robotic Tech Vest (or RTV) is basically the equivalent of high-vis jacket then: it makes the wearer more visible. Presumably, the new system is also more flexible than previous safety measures. Employees can wander into the robot enclosure whenever they need rather than having to mark out a safe zone beforehand. Amazon says the RTV has been introduced to more than 25 sites over the past year, and claims it’s been a “huge success.”