Cute! Look at the Robots Amazon Just Bought for $775 Million. (Video)

Number 5 is alive!

Yesterday, Amazon announced it paid $775 million in cash for Kiva Systems, the maker of little orange robots that help automate warehouses.

Today, a video of Kiva’s CEO Mick Mountz, who appeared at a Wired business conference, was being passed around the Twitter-verse. 

In the clip, he depicted a day in the life of a Kiva robot, comparing complex routes one takes on the warehouse floor to “highways” and a grid that was set up like Manhattan with North and South avenues.

He even gave the robots — all males, I noticed — some personality.

They can’t really be compared to Number 5 in “Short Circuit,” which had super expressive eyebrows, but you can’t help but think these more modern, practical versions, are cute, too.

For example, Mountz said, one robot that rocked back and forth on its way to its parking spot had some “swagger.” And, after a particularly taxing trip, a robot returned to base for a “five-minute drink off the charger.”

All joking aside, the huge benefit of these robots is their efficiency, something Amazon — with roughly 70 distribution centers — doesn’t take lightly. In well-orchestrated routes, the machines will expertly zigzag their way across a floor, picking up racks of inventory that are then brought back to real humans, who pick up the items and pack them in boxes.

Kiva’s clients include companies like The Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon-owned Diapers.com, Staples, Walgreens and Crate and Barrel. Mountz, who founded Kiva Systems nine years ago, knows a thing or two about packing boxes on a warehouse floor. The executive previously worked at grocery delivery service Webvan, which was one of the bigger dotcom flops in history.

Here are the robots in action:

Photo Credit: Virgin Media.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus