“What if every item in your warehouse could walk and talk on its own?” — Kiva Systems
Amazon may be earth’s biggest store, but a better tagline might be “bringing the future forward.” There must be a special tingle in the heart of the science fiction buff who orders a new Philip K. Dick, H.P. Lovecraft or J.G. Ballard book from Jeff Bezos’ behemoth. Robots packing up a Ballard is just perfect.
We’ve known for a long time that automation is all around us, doing jobs we hardly see. But check out what’s at the other end of all those letters to Santa. The robots are called Kiva robots, but at this time of year you may as well call them elves. (The name comes from Kiva Systems, which Amazon purchased in 2012.) The Kiva robots follow barcodes on the floor to find the merchandise, and deliver it to human hands for picking and packing. For now anyway, humans remain part of the action. At some point you may be able to watch the whole process via webcam. Even Lovecraft might be impressed