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Amazon Robotics

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Amazon Robotics LLC
Kiva Systems (2003–2015)
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded2003; 21 years ago (2003)
HeadquartersUnited States
Area served
Key people
ParentAmazon (2012–present)

Amazon Robotics LLC, formerly Kiva Systems, is a Massachusetts-based company that manufactures mobile robotic fulfillment systems.[1][2] It is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Its automated storage and retrieval systems have been used in the past by companies including The Gap, Walgreens, Staples, Gilt Groupe, Office Depot, Crate & Barrel, and Saks 5th Avenue.[3] Employees of Erstwhile Kiva now only work in Amazon warehouses.[citation needed]


After working on the business process team at Webvan, Mick Mountz concluded that the company's downfall was due to the inflexibility of existing material handling systems and the high cost of order fulfillment.[4] These challenges inspired Mountz to create a method to pick, pack, and ship orders through a system that could deliver any item to any operator at any time.

To accomplish his vision, Mountz sought help from Peter Wurman and Raffaello D'Andrea. In 2003, Mountz became the founder and CEO of Kiva Systems, through his partnership with co-founders Wurman and D'Andrea.


Traditionally, goods are moved around a distribution center using a conveyor system or by human-operated machines (such as forklifts). In Kiva's approach, items are stored in portable storage units. When an order is entered into the Kiva database system, the software locates the closest automated guided vehicle to the item and directs it to retrieve it. The mobile robots navigate around the warehouse by following a series of computerized bar-code stickers on the floor. Each drive unit has a sensor that prevents it from colliding with others. When the drive unit reaches the target location, it slides underneath the pod and lifts it off the ground through a corkscrew action. The robot then carries the pod to the specified human operator to pick up the items.[5]

Kiva sold systems based on two different robot models. The smaller model was approximately 2 by 2.5 feet (0.61 by 0.76 m), 18 inches (460 mm) high, and capable of lifting 1,000 pounds (450 kg). The larger model was capable of carrying a pallet with loads as heavy as 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg).[6] Both were a distinctive orange color. The maximum velocity of the robots was 1.3 metres per second (4.3 ft/s).[7] The mobile bots were battery-powered and needed to be recharged every hour for five minutes.

The system is considered much more efficient and accurate than the traditional method of having human workers traveling around the warehouse locating and picking items.[8]

Acquisition by Amazon[edit]

An Amazon warehouse robot

In March 2012, Amazon.com acquired Kiva Systems for US$775 million. At the time, this was Amazon's second-largest acquisition in its history.[9]

Since the acquisition by Amazon, Kiva has remained quiet. The company has not announced any new Kiva customers and has stopped its marketing activities.[10] Most of Kiva's sales staff have departed, though the company continues to hire in the engineering and manufacturing departments. Industry observers speculate that Amazon is focusing on internal operations and is not interested in sharing the technology with competitors.[9]

In August 2015, the company officially changed its name from Kiva Systems LLC to Amazon Robotics LLC.[11][12]

As of June 2019, Amazon had more than 200,000 robots working in their warehouses.[13] Amazon now (January 2020) has more than 200K robots (they call them "drives") in their warehouses.[14][15] Cathie Wood in 2023 predicted that by 2030 Amazon warehouses will have more robots than people by adding about 1000 per day[16] should have 1M total in 2024 (next year), instead of linear predicted 800K. Newest warehouses already have more robots than people.[17] Amazon Robotics introduced the robotic tech vest in 2019.[18]

In July 2022, Amazon unveiled its first ever autonomous mobile robot (AMR) Proteus.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us – The Kiva Approach – A Different kind of Material Handling Company & Complete Warehouse Automation Solution". Kiva Systems. Archived from the original on 2 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Amazon buys warehouse robotics start-up Kiva Systems for $775 million". Boston.com.
  3. ^ "History of Kiva Systems". Kiva Systems. Archived from the original on 2 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Mick Mountz". Kiva Systems. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014.
  5. ^ Giacaglia, Giuliano (2019-05-29). "Robots in the Industry". Medium. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  6. ^ Steiner, Christopher (16 March 2009). "Bot-In-Time Delivery — Forbes.com".
  7. ^ "Three Engineers, Hundreds of Robots, One Warehouse — IEEE Spectrum". Archived from the original on 2016-09-17. Retrieved 2009-09-04.
  8. ^ "Warehousing and Distribution Centers: Zappos.com goes Space Age". Archived from the original on 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
  9. ^ a b "Will Amazon-owned robot maker sell to e-tailer's rivals? – The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com.
  10. ^ SCDigest Editorial Staff (March 31, 2014). "Supply Chain News: Amazon will not Make Kiva Systems Available to General Market for at Least Two Years". Supply Chain Digest.
  11. ^ "Amazon Robotics". Archived from the original on 2016-09-09. Retrieved 2015-08-06.
  12. ^ Ames, Ben (2015-04-26). "Kiva Systems to be renamed Amazon Robotics". DC Velocity.
  13. ^ Holley, Peter (June 7, 2019). "Amazon's one-day delivery service depends on the work of thousands of robots". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  14. ^ Edwards, David (2020-01-21). "Amazon now has 200,000 robots working in its warehouses". Robotics & Automation News.
  15. ^ "Look back on 10 years of Amazon robotics". About Amazon. 2022-06-21.
  16. ^ Pound, Jesse (Feb 1, 2023). "Robots could surpass workers at Amazon by 2030, Cathie Wood says". CNBC.
  17. ^ DiStefano, Joseph N. (Oct 17, 2021). "Inside Amazon's largest warehouse — where you'll find more robots than people". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  18. ^ "Amazon-Mitarbeiter erhalten "Roboter-Schutzwesten"". DER STANDARD (in Austrian German). Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  19. ^ Wessling, Brianna (August 31, 2022). "How Amazon developed precision autonomy for Proteus". The Robot Report. Retrieved September 7, 2022.

External links[edit]