See how robots are made

See how robots are made

Amazon recently welcomed nearly 100 reporters from around the world for a rare look inside Amazon’s Global Robotics facility in Westborough, Massachusetts. I tagged the About Amazon team and got a look at all the technologies the company is developing. One of the coolest things I experienced was the behind-the-scenes tour of how the robots at the Completion Center are built and tested.

Keep reading to find out what I’ve learned about where these bots come from.

Amazon is the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial robots. Erica McCloskey, Amazon’s Global Robotics Manufacturing Manager, was kind enough to walk us through the process of building these robots in her Massachusetts facility.

Of course, safety comes first. Before we could climb onto the crafting floor, our group threw on a pair of safety goggles.

Image of the safety dress worn before going to the manufacturing floor

And I happily swapped out my high heels for a comfortable pair of safety shoes. (Thanks to the lenders, Erica!)

Image of the safety dress worn before going to the manufacturing floor

McCloskey explained that we will witness the construction of the Hercules robot. The aptly named robot is the flat blue machine that roams designated areas of our fulfillment centers to lift and carry products.

Image of an Amazon robot mentioned in the text.

Every assembly line starts with a large, claw-like robot. The claw lifts the heavy baseplate of the Hercules robot onto the conveyor belt so assembly line workers avoid stress.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

There are 10 stations in each line, and the personnel at each step perform various parts of the assembly process, slowly bringing the robot to life.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

Each station has a screen of instructions so employees know exactly what to do as they go from one station to the next throughout the week. Each task takes about six minutes to complete.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

The assembly process takes about an hour for each bot, including functional testing at the end of the line. We can produce up to 1,000 robots each day.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

Another claw-like piece is used to roll the robot off the assembly line and place it on the floor of the facility. From there, the robot drives itself to a separate area to receive a shipment and begin the second phase of testing.

A GIF showing the robotic claw placing a newly built robot on the floor of the facility

The large blue squares you see at the edges of the test area are called drive unit validators. Bots pay themselves to investigators to simulate their work at completion centers.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

The command unit investigators make sure that each robot is capable of lifting hundreds of pounds—a capacity required for its functioning in the future. Fun fact: McCloskey said the staff voted to name the detectives after superheroes.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

Once the test is complete, the robot drives itself to get another shipment and loads itself onto a pallet to be packed and shipped to the fulfillment center.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

We asked around to make sure the robots went to loving homes. COO Corey Sellers assured us that Hercules is among the most beloved robots at his North Carolina facility.

Image showing the current step in the assembly process

And that, my friends, is how the Amazon bot is being brought into this world to help make employee jobs easier and safer in our fulfillment centers. Get to know each other Newly announced bots which will soon join Hercules on the Execution Center floors.


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