The Drive Unit is a mobile robot used by Amazon for automating its warehouses. It carries heavy shelves of inventory on its back, and it never gets tired, complains about the boss, or asks for a raise.
Kiva Systems and Amazon Robotics
(Originally developed by Kiva Systems, acquired by Amazon in 2012.)
- United States 🇺🇸
Did you know?
In early 2012, online retailer Amazon acquired Kiva Systems for $775 million in cash.
Raffaello D'Andrea, an ETH Zurich professor and a Kiva cofounder, explains how some of the company's key technologies originated with robot soccer.Photo: Kiva Systems
Kiva Systems was founded by Mick Mountz, an MIT-trained engineer and entrepreneur, along with Raffaello D'Andrea, a roboticist, and Peter Wurman, a computer scientist. Kiva built six prototype Drive Unit (DU) robots in 2004. They were used to demonstrate the concept of a robotic warehouse while the company worked on the first commercial version of the DU 1000, which was released in 2005. The next generation of the DU 1000 followed quickly in 2006 with major changes to the charging subsystem and lifting mechanism. In 2007, Kiva introduced the larger capacity DU 3000 bot, which can lift 1,360 kg (3,000 lb) and was designed for transporting oversize items. Since that time the form factors of the robots have remained mostly the same while the firmware has continually evolved. Amazon acquired Kiva for US $775 million in 2012 and formed Amazon Robotics.
Capable of operating autonomously in groups of hundreds. Decentralized software architecture. Able to lift about 450 kg, or 1,000 lb.
- 146.5 kg
- 4.68 km/h
Downward-facing camera (to read barcodes on the floor), upward-facing camera (to read barcodes under product racks), infrared sensors, and collision-detection bumpers.
On-board computer on each robot, a main server for managing the robots and inventory, and PCs at the order-fulfillment stations.
Agent-based software running on the robots, the main warehouse server, and the PCs.