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Amazon enlists the help of 15,000-strong robot army

Amazon is doing everything it can to prepare for the biggest online shopping period of the year, and one of the measures the company has implemented is the deployment of more than 15,000 wheeled robots.

Their job? Delivering products to Amazon’s employees.

They navigate by scanning coded stickers on the floor and following digital commands that are wirelessly transmitted from a central computer.

The system uses bar codes to track which items are on each shelf, so a robot can grab the correct items and deliver them to the relevant worker as orders come in.

This year, the company did some heavy investing in upgrades, expanding its distribution network and adding new technology in order to withstand the shopping spree that begins with the holiday season.

Amazon says it processed orders for 36.8 million items on the Monday after Thanksgiving last year, and it was expecting “Cyber Monday” to be even busier this year.

Amazon worker Rejinaldo Rosales told The Associated Press that the robots are very helpful during work.

“We pick two to three times faster than we used to,” Rosales said. “It’s made the job a lot easier.”

Last year, some Amazon’s customers were disappointed by late deliveries and shipping troubles. Rivals like Google and eBay are the ever present danger for the online shopping giant, so Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos wants to make sure last year doesn’t happen again.

One location to have incorporated the robots is Amazon’s centre in Tracy, California, home to more than 1,500 full-time employees and now, 3,000 robots.

Amazon’s senior vice president for operations, Dave Clark, said the robots will cut the centre’s operating costs by 20 per cent, but won’t eliminate jobs. “Our focus is all about building automation that helps people do their jobs better,” he said.