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Is video game training the key to unlocking warehouse robotics?

Is video game training the key to unlocking warehouse robotics?
Is video game training the key to unlocking warehouse robotics?

Can a simple video game hold the key to transforming warehouse automation? Approximately 10-15% of warehouses have embraced mechanization and could democratize robotic fulfillment solutions. 

Imagine humanoid robots, once confined to science fiction movies, now easily maneuvering through bustling distribution centers, learning how to carry out new tasks by watching task-centric video games. 

According to Google DeepMind’s researchers, this robotic revolution is not just a distant dream, but something tangible that will significantly impact supply chain operations.

Why does this matter? Video game training will lower the barriers of entry for companies that want to integrate robotic solutions into their warehouse operations. It’s usually a costly and complex process, mostly only accessible to large corporations with even larger budgets. 

But if robots could be trained using video game simulations, it would become easier for a much wider range of businesses to supercharge their logistics operations.

Video games in warehouse robotics

Sarah Sebo, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Chicago tells PYMNTS that “artificial intelligence (AI) can better enable robots to understand their environments.” This allows humanoid robots to detect objects and people. 

Google DeepMind’s researchers say robots could be taught to navigate a 3D space to accomplish tasks. This can be done by programming their central machine learning (ML) and AI platforms in the same way a video game works. 

This approach to training will significantly benefit warehouse distribution industries that want to incorporate humanoid, bipedal robots. An example is Amazon’s Digit, a humanoid robot designed by Agility Robotics to move warehouse bins.

Meet Amazon’s Digit, and it’s not here to take your job: 

When Digit was introduced, Amazon Robotics’ chief technologist, Tye Brady, explained that while some jobs might become redundant due to automation, introducing robots would create new roles. It also frees humans from performing “menial, mundane, and repetitive” tasks.

“When we do our job really, really well, our robotic systems just kind of blend into the background to become ubiquitous. You don’t talk about your dishwasher too much in your kitchen. It’s an amazing robot. It’s such a great robot that I don’t even call it a robot.”

Warehouse automation: where to from here?

Training robots in this manner would enable warehouses to scale their operations more easily. By analyzing robot performance data, businesses can optimize the layout of their warehouses for peak robotic performance while also identifying obstacles. 

As AI, IoT (the Internet of Things), and 5G continue to advance, we’ll see more sophisticated and interconnected robotic systems being deployed in the logistics and supply chain industries. 

Speaking to PYMNTS, Akash Gupta, CEO of the GreyOrange robotics fulfillment platform, says this revolutionary tech is still in the “very early stages.” There is room to grow since only 10% to 15% of warehouses have mechanized processes. 

However, when implemented, warehouse automation could eliminate the back-breaking physical work – specifically the sorting, picking, and packing of goods.  

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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