Amazon has faced accusations of poor working conditions in its warehouse, but the company is also a major provider of jobs, employing hundreds of thousands in its warehouses. In its latest move, Amazon says it will invest $1 billion into improving robots and other tech in its locations.
The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF) will provide money to drive innovations in robotics developers. While the word robots in the workplace evoke concepts of replacing humans with automation, that does not seem to be the goal.
Instead, Amazon’s fund is focusing on assisting human workers to reduce workplace injuries. Core investments from the fund include:
- “Modjoul: Founded in 2016 and based in Greenville, South Carolina, Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time, personalized alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries, most notably musculoskeletal issues.
- Vimaan: Founded in 2017 and based in Santa Clara, California, Vimaan is developing computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions engineered to improve inventory management.
- Agility Robotics: Founded in 2015 and based in Corvallis, Oregon, Agility Robotics is developing a bi-pedal walking robot, Digit, that addresses the mobility limitations of traditional robots so that machines can assist people wherever they are.
- BionicHIVE: Founded in 2014 and based in Israel, BionicHIVE is developing an autonomous robotic solution that can adapt to existing shelving racks and boxes in warehouses and is capable of floor to ceiling functionality.
- Mantis Robotics: Founded in 2020 and based in San Francisco, Mantis Robotics is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to cohesively work alongside people.”
According to Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, VP of worldwide corporate development, Amazon is interested in providing funds to startups to deliver solutions to its problems.
“We see an opportunity to look beyond our own experience and empower companies that are developing emerging technologies in customer fulfillment operations, logistics, and the supply chain.”
Amazon has already made a significant splash with robotics and replaced human workers. Front automated drone deliveries to auto checkouts in the retail space. Even so, the company still employs over 1.5 million people around the world.
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