Invention and creation have been a constant throughout human history, with new technologies enhancing our world and helping us do things that previously seemed impossible. Creative and inquisitive minds have constantly searched for new ways to enrich our lives, leading to the wide range of technologies that we use today.
Teams across Amazon carry that very same spirit in their work, with a mission to make the lives of our customers and employees better every day. Take the European Advanced Technology team, formed in 2019. Since their creation, more than 550 new pieces of technology have been introduced and more than €400 million has been invested across Amazon fulfilment centers in Europe. These inventions and investments support employees in their roles and help Amazon deliver for customers.
Investing in innovative technology
The team, based at Amazon’s European Innovation Lab in Vercelli, Italy, is focused on hardware and software development, as well as technology testing for industrial robotics, autonomous vehicles, automated packaging and sorting technologies. Innovations introduced include:
- Item sorters - A fully-automated sortation system that reduces muscle strain by removing the need for an employee to rummage through a tote (large box) to look for items.
- Pallet movers - A large robotic arm that eliminates the need to use forklifts to carry pallets, and automatically moves multiple items from one location to another.
- Tote retrievers - A machine that lifts totes and places them on conveyors automatically.
- Automated guided vehicles - Support robots that seamlessly drive around the site carrying items for people, reducing the amount of walking required, and alleviating the need for employees to push and pull carts and totes.
Stefano La Rovere, Director, Worldwide Robotics Advanced Technology at Amazon, said: "Throughout its history, Amazon has invested in technology and innovation to support employees in their daily lives, improving safety at work and providing customers with fast and reliable delivery.
“In just three years, we’ve invested more than €400 million in research and development and introduced more than 550 new pieces of new technology into Amazon’s fulfilment centers across Europe. What’s exciting is we’ve only just begun, with more cutting-edge technologies being invented that will be deployed over the coming years.”
Technology is supporting the creation of new roles
The development and introduction of this technology is part of over €100 billion invested in Europe by Amazon since 2010. We’ve continued to create jobs at the same time, and we now employ more than 200,000 people in permanent roles across Europe. In 2021 alone, Amazon created more than 65,000 new permanent positions across its European businesses.
The investment in technology has made it possible for our people to develop new skills or take on new roles. To support skills development, Amazon’s Career Choice program provides funding of up to €8,000 over four years for nationally recognized courses, including in IT and robotics. New roles created as a result of this technology investment include:
- AR Tech: Engineers who use Kindles showing a virtual map of the Amazon Robotics floor to identify safe entry/exit paths so they can collect robotic drive units carrying products for maintenance.
- Amnesty Floor Monitor: These employees use the same Kindle systems to plan paths onto the robotics floor to retrieve items that have fallen from shelves.
- Quarterback: These roles manage a team of Amnesty Floor Monitors (above) using a live map of all live Amazon Robotics floors in the building to coordinate their movements and provide guidance on the quickest route to fallen items.