A Robot's Life
Have you worked in a warehouse? How about a warehouse filled with Roomba-like robots that crawl the floor looking for stuff? In this three-minute presentation, Kiva Systems founder Mick Mountz explains how his company's robots work: the robot locates an item in the warehouse's "pod" system, fetches the pod containing the item (while avoiding other robots driving around), brings the pod to a "pick worker" (human), who hands the item off to a "packing worker" (also human), who puts the item (or collection of items) in a box for shipment. Periodically the robot is assigned a resting period, to recharge.
While I haven't worked in a warehouse, this seems like a distinct improvement over sending humans through the maze of items, locating and retrieving each one. Sure, the picking and packing are not exactly awesome jobs either, but at least this is a start. Have a look, and see how robots are taking at least one of the tedious steps out of warehouse fulfillment.