Robot of the Week: KIVA Systems

Not all robots are glamorous. In fact, the vast majority of robots are designed as workhorses, capable of superhuman tasks like heavy lifting, grinding, drilling, and tedious repetition. And KIVA's warehouse automation bots are a prime example.

KIVA Systems was founded in 2003 in Waltham, MA, by MIT graduate (woohoo!) Mick Mountz. The problem they were trying to solve was a common one: how to automate and optimize the flow of warehouse supplies. Today, 6 years later, KIVA bots power many of the biggest warehouses in the business: Zappos, Gap, Staples, just to name a few.


The KIVA bots do the tasks that humans are either incapable of (they have a lifting capacity of nearly 1300kg (almost 1.5 tons)) or are unwilling to do (extremely repetitive transportation of goods). A warehouse can house an entire army of these bots, and some testimonials put order fulfillment at less than 12 minutes from time of online purchase to hitting the shipment trucks. And the robots are self-guided, using barcodes and gridlines painted on the floor of a warehouse.

Now if I could just get one of these things to do my laundry....


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