In just a couple years Gilt Groupe has grown into a company with $200 million in annual revenues. Which is an interesting story in itself, but watch what happens when stock-fraudster turned journalist Henry Blodget interviews Gilt's CEO Susan Lyne. In short order, he gets totally derailed by their AWESOME WAREHOUSE ROBOTS:
Allow us to answer some of the questions that Lyne can't, in the interview. As we reported in 2007, the Kiva system relies on a combo of high-powered servers, and autonomous robots which browse the aisles and fetch merchandise. A central server processes orders; it also tracks the individual robots. When an order comes it, it finds the relevant item, and assigns a robot to fetch the shelf it's on. And off the robot goes, finding its way by scanning barcodes spaced throughout the warehouse. It then delivers the shelf to a human picker, who packs the order. The system basically cuts out all the inefficiency involved in having human fork-lift operators spending all day driving up and down the aisles of a warehouse. Companies ranging from Staples to Zappos now rely on the system, which apparently costs upwards of $5 million for a large installation.
What's uncanny is that the robots take care of them selves. When low on power, they head to a docking station--which warehouse works liken to "getting a drink." They also have proximity sensors, so that they don't bump into each other. Meaning that accidents like this one are a distant memory: