Amazon Unveils First Fully Autonomous Mobile Robot Called Proteus

Meet Proteus, Amazon’s first fully autonomous mobile robot.

Proteus, which looks a lot like a robot vacuum, was designed to automatically perform tasks and safely move around employees using proprietary safety, perception, and navigation technology.

“Historically, it’s been difficult to safely incorporate robotics in the same physical space as people,” Amazon explained in a company announcement(Opens in a new window). “We believe Proteus will change that while remaining smart, safe, and collaborative.”

Proteus is capable of lifting and transporting GoCarts, Amazon’s wheeled trolleys used to move packages through facilities. The video below shows the robot in action, including what happens when a human steps into its path. Proteus stops, waits, and resumes its journey once the person moves out of range.

The autonomous robot will initially be deployed in the outbound GoCart handling areas of Amazon’s fulfillment and sort centers. “Our vision is to automate GoCart handling throughout the network, which will help reduce the need for people to manually move heavy objects through our facility and instead let them focus on more rewarding work,” the company said.

Celebrating 10 years of robotic evolution, Amazon unveiled several more automated systems. Cardinal(Opens in a new window) is an AI-based robot arm that can select one package out of a pile of boxes, lift it, read the label, and place it on the appropriate GoCart (for Proteus to collect). Amazon is currently trialing a Cardinal prototype for handling packages up to 50 pounds and expects to deploy the technology in fulfillment centers next year.

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Other tech includes an AI-powered product scanner called AR ID(Opens in a new window) that replaces employees’ handheld barcode readers, and a new Containerized Storage System(Opens in a new window) that relies on an assortment of machines to deliver products to workers and put staff in “a safer and more ergonomic position through a highly choreographed dance of robotics and software.”

“What started as an interesting acquisition [of robotics firm Kiva in 2012] has grown into a dedicated team” of experts, Amazon said, adding that its facilities are “safer and more collaborative than ever.”

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