/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Picking and Stowing in a Robotic Workflow

 Most interesting piece from IEEE, here is the intro. Made me think about similar tasks we examined. 

Stowing Is a “Beautiful Problem” That Amazon Is Solving With Robots Cramming items into warehouse pods takes clever new hardware    By Evan Ackerman

When we hear about manipulation robots in warehouses, it’s almost always in the context of picking. That is, about grasping a single item from a bin of items, and then dropping that item into a different bin, where it may go toward building a customer order. Picking a single item from a jumble of items can be tricky for robots (especially when the number of different items may be in the millions). While the problem’s certainly not solved, in a well-structured and optimized environment, robots are nevertheless still getting pretty good at this kind of thing.

Amazon has been on a path toward the kind of robots that can pick items since at least 2015, when the company sponsored the Amazon Picking Challenge at ICRA. And just a month ago, Amazon introduced Sparrow, which it describes as “the first robotic system in our warehouses that can detect, select, and handle individual products in our inventory.” What’s important to understand about Sparrow, however, is that like most practical and effective industrial robots, the system surrounding it is doing a lot of heavy lifting—Sparrow is being presented with very robot-friendly bins that makes its job far easier than it would be otherwise. This is not unique to Amazon, and in highly automated warehouses with robotic picking systems it’s typical to see bins that either include only identical items or have just a few different items to help the picking robot be successful.

Doing the picking task in reverse is called stowing, and it’s the way that items get into Amazon’s warehouse workflow in the first place.   .... ' 

No comments: