I am a fan of automation in warehousing and logistics. Companies like Slip Robotics, which offers arguably the most practical automated solution for loading and unloading trailers; Quicktron Robotics, which is accelerating intralogistics automation with its intelligent robotic solutions; Locus Robotics, which has perfected the use of autonomous robots working collaboratively with people to fulfill products; wheel.me, which invented the autonomous wheel to make automation affordable and available to any company regardless of their size; Sergei Mamedrzaev, who created StoreXapp, a fully-automated robotic store for 24/7 unattended order pickup; and AutoStore™, Addverb, Attabotics Inc., Brightpick, Exotec, Fabric, Pio, Takeoff Technologies Inc., and 1MRobotics, which have created systems to automate online grocery fulfillment.
345 Global and Mark Edwards have created the most valuable software for retail and the supply chain. I strongly suggest everyone follow 345 Global and Mark on LinkedIn.
The company that I believe will revolutionize fulfillment the most is Agility Robotics, maker of the coolest robot on earth – Digit.
Digit, is the first human-centric, multi-purpose robot made for logistics work. Digit is designed to do useful work safely in spaces designed for people, starting with bulk material handling within warehouses and distribution centers.
Warehouse work includes repetitive tasks that lead to injury and high turnover, leaving costly gaps in the workforce that snarl supply chains. While automation can help fill those gaps, existing automation solutions are typically single-purpose, meaning companies have to onboard and maintain dozens of different solutions for different tasks, or they require expensive customization to the workspace.
Digit is multi-purpose, so it can execute a variety of tasks and adapt to many different workflows; a fleet of Digits will be able to switch between applications depending on current warehouse needs and seasonal shifts. Because Digit is also human-centric, meaning it is the size and shape of a human and is built to work in spaces designed for people, it is easy to deploy into existing warehouse operations and as-built infrastructure without costly retrofitting.
I am incredulous that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has not acquired Agility Robotics, and tasked Joseph Quinlivan, VP of Global Robotics, to design and implement a logistics infrastructure that leverages robotics like Digit, AMRs, AS/RS, remote driven and autonomous vehicles, and micro-fulfillment systems to fully-automate commerce logistics. I remain convinced that Amazon can and should create a separate company – Amazon Logistics and Robotics – to sell logistics services globally. Note: I believe Amazon is working behind the scenes to design and build an autonomous vessel to transport cargo containers.
The future of commerce is robotics.