A Robot with Its Head in the Cloud Tackles Warehouse Picking

Hidden inside a busy industrial building in Somerville, Massachusetts, a robot arm spends its day picking up seemingly random objects—bottles of shampoo, onions, cans of shaving foam—from a conveyor belt that goes in a circle about 10 meters in diameter. The odd-looking setup is a test bed for a system that could take on many of the mundane picking tasks currently done by hand in warehouses and fulfillment centers. And it shows how advances in robotic hardware, computer vision, and teleoperation, along with the ability for machines to learn collaboratively via the cloud, may transform warehouse fulfillment in coming years.