Amazon.com has acquired Kiva Systems, the manufacturer of warehouse automation robots that are used to great success by Gap, Office Depot, Quidsi and Zappos, among others. The last two of these were acquired by Amazon over the past year.
Kiva’s orange robots, which can slide under shelves and bins of products, are used by Quidsi Inc. — the company behind Soap.com and Diapers.com that Amazon acquired for about $545 million last year.
Image via Kiva Systems
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Kiva’s stockholders, Amazon will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.
Some videos with Kiva robots in action are below:
Small mobile robots are being increasingly used to automate labor-intensive processes across various industries and are a harbinger of a future of automated, agents with distributed intelligence that can communicate with one another to accomplish large tasks.
Read more at Amazon Media Room: Press Releases and Amazon Acquires Kiva Systems in Second-Biggest Takeover – Bloomberg.
This recent TED talk introduced autonomous, agile, aerial quadrotor robots. These small-sized robots can navigate complex obstacles by transforming a 12 dimensional map into 4 dimensions and calculating the best path 600 times a second. They apply several concepts of multi-agent systems and complex adaptive systems theory to interact and cooperate, thereby resulting in the ability to accomplish intricate tasks at a system level. This behavior is emergent from simple rules at the individual level.
This kind of autonomous intelligence and cooperative behavior lends itself to several applications (besides the ability to perform the James Bond Theme). These include military and civilian applications such as the ability to lift heavy loads, reconnaissance and search & rescue efforts. Once the learning rules that allow the robots to adapt are coupled with long term memory and swarming behavior, the potential applications and implications are phenomenal.
Swarms of autonomous and independently intelligent Quadrotor robots create ephemeral mesh networks to perform complex tasks, such as play the James Bond Theme.
Move over Roomba and Kiva. Harvest Automation‘s agriculture robots are here. These small mobile robots incorporate several technologies to successfully automate the labor-intensive process of moving around potted plants and shrubs in nurseries.
Image via Harvest Automation
Read more at These May Be The Droids Farmers Are Looking For | Epicenter | Wired.com.