Amazon has announced its “first fully autonomous mobile robot,” meant to move large carts throughout its warehouses. The robot is called Proteus, and Amazon says it can safely navigate around human employees, unlike some of its past robots that it kept separated in a caged area.
Amazon says Proteus robots have “advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology,” and a (strangely silent) video shows the robots shining a green light in front of themselves as they move around. When a human steps into the beam, the robot stops moving, then resumes after the person moves away.
The company has also announced several other robotic systems. One, called Cardinal, is a robotic arm that can lift and move packages weighing up to 50 pounds, which Amazon hopes to deploy in warehouses next year. The company says that its computer vision systems let it pick out and lift individual packages, even if they’re in a pile.
Amazon’s post also shows off tech that could let employees ditch the hand scanners they use to log barcodes. Instead, workers stand in front of a camera system that recognizes the packages without pausing to scan the label. There isn’t a lot of detail on how it works other than some combination of machine learning and a 120 fps camera system, but the effect is similar to what we’ve seen from the company’s Just Walk Out tech that lets it build cashierless stores. We’ve reached out to Amazon to ask exactly what the system is looking at and will let you know if we hear back.