Kiva Systems -> Amazon Robotics, Amazon's Automation Research Group

Amazon acquired Kiva Systems in 2012, then went dark.  No new customers mentioned.  Sales staff was let go.  Now in August 2015 will point to Amazon Robotics

A recruitment video is here.

Here are the current open positions.  Sorry for the formatting, but too much time to clean this up.  You get the idea of the hiring amazon is doing.

Google, Facebook, Apple, and so many of the other high tech companies with huge data centers have robotics efforts.  A huge data center behind robotics makes so much sense.

Video of Amazon's Kiva Robots

I tried to contact Kiva Systems once and didn't hear anything back.  From what I read it looked like all resources are working on warehouses.

The media repeats an AP article, but Time has an article with a video

The robots are made by Kiva Systems, a company Amazon purchased for $775 million in 2012 to better handle the hundreds of worldwide orders Amazon customers make every second. Kiva’s robots bring shelves of goods out of storage and carry them to employees, allowing Amazon to retrieve more items for more customers simultaneously. Amazon began using these robots in July of this year, and there are now more than 15,000 of them in 10 of the company’s warehouses. They whir around like gears on a Swiss watch.

Here is a video that is part of the Time article.  What would be nice is a voice over instead of music.

Kiva Systems looks like it is for Internal Amazon use

I have run into a few people who were pumped up to use Kiva Systems in areas other than warehousing.  But, after an inquiry for information went unanswered and no ability to contact a sales person I found it is highly probably that Kiva Systems is for internal Amazon use for new growth and the installed base is in maintenance mode.  The Boston Globe reported on the current state of things at Kiva System back in Dec 2013.

But the impression is that Kiva’s interest in selling to non-Amazon customers has waned. The company hasn’t announced a new customer since it became part of Amazon, and much of its sales staff has departed. The company continues to hire — but in departments like engineering and manufacturing, not sales or marketing. It could be that satisfying Amazon’s appetite for Kiva bots is consuming most of the company’s resources.

Many of competitors have walked into the trap of being single sourced, a no-no for anyone in supply chain management.

But as Kiva ramps up production of its robotic systems for its new parent — the number on order from Amazon may be as high as 18,000, according to one trade publication, and could be higher according to my sources — the big question is what happens to Kiva’s early customers. Major retailers such asStaples, Walgreens, Gap, Office Depot, and Crate & Barrel installed Kiva’s technology in their warehouses. And now they all must grapple not only with possible shortages of Kiva bots, but also whether they want to do business with a direct competitor.

So, if you were thinking of using Kiva Systems you may be best looking for other options, like the above installed base.

I did talk to one Kiva customer, only on the condition that I not use his name or company. He said Amazon would continue to support the systems he’d installed for several years, but added, “I’m planning now for life without Kiva.”

We'll see if people innovate the use of Robotics in Data Centers

3 years ago I started researching the use of robotics in data centers when someone asked what will change the way data centers are built and operate.  I put this post up back in June 2011 on a robotics expert I saw who was using robotics in interesting scenarios.

President Obama’s media event was fluffy with little technical content.  Especially compared to the hour I spent on the same day listening to Hugh Durrant-Whyte, CEO of NICTA, ex research director at Australia’s robotics efforts.

Hugh Durrant-Whyte 

Research Director 
Professor of Mechatronic Engineering, Appointed 1995

At the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, USYD

My research focuses on two main areas; navigation of autonomous vehicles and senor data fusion. 
In navigation I pioneered the application of Kalman filter and target-tracking methods to the problem of robot localisation. This has had substantial impact in robotics; Many operational mobile robots now use these methods for localisation. I also introduced the revolutionary Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM) method. Interest in SLAM is now exploding. My research work is now focused on general probabilistic SLAM problems appropriate to very unstructured, outdoor and underwater, environments.

DatacenterKnowledge has a guest post on the subject of robotics in the data center.  This is the first of three part series.

This week Data Center Knowledge presents a three-part series on data center automation and the potential role of robotics.

I’ll see if the end comes to the same design conclusions I came at how data centers could be changed.