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Supply Chain News: Amazon is Adding to Its FC Robot Portfolio


Video Shows New Pegasus Robot Delivering Cartons to Shipping Chutes in Sortation Centers

June 10, 2019
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Not only did Amazon show video of its latest version of its delivery drone tech at its first re:MARS conference in Las Vegas last week, it also unveiled three new distribution robots, one of which it is using now in its a few of its sortation centers.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

The robotic process is monitored by an Amazon employees in a new job position called the "flow control specialist."

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Of course, Amazon made a big move into distribution robots when it acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 for some $775 million. Just a couple of months ago, Amazon also announced it had acquired another mobile robot maker, a company called Canvas Technologies.

The new Xanthus robots released at its conference apparently revamp the original Kiva platform.

First, however, let's look at the Pegasus system. As introduced by Amazon Robotics VP Brad Porter, the robot is a smart AGV that has a short piece of conveyor belt on its top.

Cartons or envelopes that have been packed and are ready for shipping are placed onto the belt.

The robots then travel a significant distance, along what a worker in the video calls the "robot highway," to a chute, at which point the belt is activated to move the carton or envelop into the chute and then on to a shipping trailer.

The Amazon robot is similar in design to a robot from India-based GreyOrange that was on display at the ProMat conference in Chicago in April. GreyOrange told SCDigest at the show that it's version of this robot had been deployed at a few hubs of major parcel carriers.

The Pegasus system is designed for use at Amazon's sortation centers, which sequence orders by zip code for most efficient shipping, for example for the US Postal Service.



Amazon's Pegasus Robots in Action



Pegasus deployment started at Amazon's Denver sortation facility in October 2018, and Amazon plans to continue rolling out the program in other US sortation centers in 2019.

(See More Below)




The robotic process is monitored by an Amazon employees in a new job position called the "flow control specialist."

Amazon says the Pegasus system is reducing mis-sorted goods by 50%.

"In developing this, we realized we had an opportunity to rethink the way we designed robotic drives at Amazon," said Porter. "Accuracy is super important. If you drop a package off the conveyor and lose half of it for a few hours, sort a package to the wrong destination, or drop it and damage the package, we can't live up to our customer promise anymore. The results of this new system is that it just works better."

Also at the conference, Porter introduced Amazon's new Xanthus robotic platform. The redesign gives Xanthus a much thinner profile than the Kiva robots, with one-third the number of parts, one-half the cost, easier maintenance, and the same safety features.

The new platform will deployed at Amazon FCs, and will allow Amazon to customize solutions to specific needs of different FCs, Porter added. One version is called the Xanthus Sort Bot, and another is called the Xanthus Tote Mover.

More detail will be coming on these bots, which have not yet been deployed in an actual FC.

Any reaction to these new Amazon robots? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.




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