Amazon given patent for robotic inventory system

Amazon has been shown to have won a patent for a ‘package packer robot’, which follows the general trajectory of the firm toward removing people from the supply chain.

Last week, the US TV news station NBC News published a story about the new patent, and the mainstream media have taken great interest in the concept, not least because of its potential impact on the workforce.

The patent was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on the 26th of January. It describes a system where robots can be used to grasp inventory and help speed up the packaging process in fulfilment centres.

Amazon has introduced a very high degree of automation into its fulfilment centres and is known to be developing a wide range of automation systems through its robotics arm, Kiva.

In addition, there is a plethora of patents for packaging/sortation robotics on the USPTO database. What distinguishes Patent No. 20170021499 and makes it newsworthy, however, is that it bears the name “Amazon”.

With the high profile drone testing and licensing as well as interest in delivery robots, Amazon’s interest in robotics to speed up and add efficiency into the supply chain is well known. Given that it routinely makes the press as asking its fulfilment centre humans to walk a long way every day and meet tight targets, this latest story has sparked a lot of interest in the mainstream media.  
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