Can a robot pick and pack better than a human? The ‘Amazon Picking Challenge’ is on

Can a robot pick and pack better than a human? The ‘Amazon Picking Challenge’ is on

Don’t crush the Oreos.

That’s one of the biggest challenges every robot will face in the Amazon Picking Challenge that will be at the ICRA convention as part of its “Robot Challenges” events in May. According to Amazon’s announcement about the contest, “it is our goal to strengthen the ties between the industrial and academic robotic communities and promote shared and open solutions to some of the big problems in unstructured automation.”

Robots will be challenged with recognizing and locating items, then safely packing them into cardboard boxes for shipment. Anything broken, crushed or damaged with result in point deductions. The winner who clears the point system will take home $20,000, with second place receiving $5,000, and third $1,000.

According to MIT Technology Review, which wrote about the upcoming competition, “Amazon has already automated some of the work done in its vast fulfillment centers. Robots in a few locations send shelves laden with products over to human workers who then grab and package them…However, no robot can yet pick and pack products with the speed and reliability of a human.”

Most of Amazon’s robots are made by Kiva Systems, which Amazon bought in 2012 for $678 million, according to MIT. Kiva will also supply several judges for the robotics event, including chief technology officer Pete Wurman who said about “30 teams from academic departments around the world will take part in the challenge.”

In case you were wondering how this whole human-vs.-robot thing is playing out, take a gander at the war that’s started already, especially battles in Germany and with workers in Delaware seeking to unionize (which failed).

Proponents of the robot “soft-touch” tech argue that it could be useful to humans, “If robots are able to handle even the light types of grasping tasks the contest proposes,” Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor at Cornell University who is taking part in the challenge, told MIT. “We could actually start to see a lot of robots helping people with different tasks.”

The University of Colorado in Boulder is one team participating. Watch their video below:

Related posts

Sony’s new PS5 update includes surprise improvements to HDR and 120Hz support


Is That a Computer You’re Wearing on Your Head?


Forget food: In Silicon Valley, chugging protein drinks is the latest trend