Over the past decade, Amazon has been at the forefront of innovation, making significant investments in robotics and advanced technology within its operations. Our dedicated teams of roboticists, engineers, software developers, and other experts have been developing solutions that allow us to automate fundamental capabilities—like how we move, handle, sort, identify, and store products.
A critical part of our fulfillment process happens before items are even packaged for shipment to customers. Sophisticated technology moves totes to employees who select inventory to be packaged. Once the items are boxed up, our existing robotic arms—like Robin and our recently announced Cardinal—can then redirect packages to various locations in the warehouse before they begin their delivery journey.
In our focus on robotics, we knew we had an opportunity to dig deeper into research and development to support individual product handling. We have millions of products of all shapes and sizes in our inventory, and we recognized the opportunity to invent new technology that could help handle them at Amazon’s scale.
That’s why we are thrilled to introduce Sparrow, our newest robotic system that significantly advances item handling in our operations. Sparrow is the first robotic system in our warehouses that can detect, select, and handle individual products in our inventory.
Sparrow represents a major advancement in the state-of-the-art technology of industrial robotics. Leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI), Sparrow can recognize and handle millions of items. Last year, with the support of Amazon technologies, our employees around the world picked, stowed, or packed approximately 5 billion packages—or over 13 million packages per day. Robotics technology enables us to work smarter, not harder, to operate efficiently and safely.
Beyond the technological advancements of Sparrow, what we’re truly excited about are the implications the technology has and the ways it will benefit our employees and customers. Working with our employees, Sparrow will take on repetitive tasks, enabling our employees to focus their time and energy on other things, while also advancing safety. At the same time, Sparrow will help us drive efficiency by automating a critical part of our fulfillment process so we can continue to deliver for customers.
Investing in our employees
The design and deployment of robotics and technology across our operations have created over 700 new categories of jobs that now exist within the company—all because of the technology we’ve introduced into our operations. These new types of roles, which employ tens of thousands of people across Amazon, help tangibly demonstrate the positive impact technology and robotics can have for our employees and for our workplace. Supporting our employees and helping them transition and advance their career into roles working with our technology is an important part of how we will continue to innovate.
An example of our commitment to advancing employee careers is our Amazon Mechatronic and Robotics Apprenticeship. The 12-week classroom apprentice program, which is covered by Amazon, is followed by 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and industry-recognized certifications, helping our employees learn new skills and pursue in-demand, technical maintenance roles. Following completion of the apprenticeship, employee pay increases by approximately 40% for program participants.
“I started part time with Amazon six years ago loading trailers, a position that was a great fit at the time after having spent 18 years raising my two children,” said Kelly Monroe, a mechatronics technician at Amazon. “When Amazon introduced the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program in 2020, I knew this would be the next step in my career at Amazon.”
With over 700 new categories of jobs at Amazon that exist thanks to our robotics and advanced technology, we are creating more opportunities for our employees to grow their skills and careers.