Warehouse robots are increasingly taking on the task of collecting the items you order online and getting them ready to ship.
It used to take 6-8 weeks for an order to arrive - now Amazon and Walmart can get you your stuff the next day.
How are online companies getting you your goods so fast? In many cases, robots are helping to speed things along!
Recently, I visited Westlake Village, California startup inVia Robotics. They are creating warehouse robots that can help smaller online business compete with the big guys.
"In particular, we help a lot of our e-commerce customers fulfill the orders ... when you click add to cart," says Lior Elazary, the co-founder and CEO of inVia Robotics.
Elazary saw a need to help smaller websites compete with the speed and efficiency of Amazon, which employs its own fleet of custom robots.
When you order stuff online, someone has to walk around and gather your items. Instead of having humans do this repetitive task, inVia robots retrieve the goods and bring them to a shipping station.
"A lot of customers of ours don’t have a robotics company, but what they need is those automations, so we become their robotics partner," explained Elazary,
inVia rents its robots so companies can expand their fleet as necessary. Plus, they work in the setup that’s already there.
The robots are manufactured in California with mostly U.S. parts. Their unconventional design allows them to lift up to 40 pounds high in the air. Special barcodes help the robots find their way and identify items.
While they do replace humans that generally pick orders, Elazary sees this as a natural evolution of the workforce.
"They are getting better, but it’s still very far off from what people often look at as intelligent. They’re able to take [on these repetitive tasks] so then people can actually elevate their job and do something else. That’s what’s been happening with technology for years," says Elazary.
Robots have gotten very good at completing routine tasks, one thing they aren’t very good at is solving their own problems. That's why humans are now needed to supervise the bots!
Rich on Tech! Search for it in your podcast app or just hit play below to listen.