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Amazon's new Pegasus drive robot will save workers from heavy lifting

One of Amazon's Denver shipping centers already has about 800 units of this "robot highway" technology.

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Amazon relies on technology like robots to increase efficiency at its shipping centers. 

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon's newest helping hand is a 2-foot-tall orange robot. 

The Pegasus drive robot technology, which will join the ranks of Amazon's Kiva robots, is already helping workers move individual packages at a sorting center in Denver, the company said Wednesday at its re:MARS AI conference in Las Vegas. 

Amazon plans to roll out the program at more sorting centers later this summer. 

The robots are attached to a conveyer belt that leads them to employees. The employees place a package on each of the robots, which travel to their predetermined eject station. The actions give rise to a "robot highway," where robots simultaneously transport packages to different stations within the facility all under two minutes. 

"Our new Pegasus drive units help to reduce sort errors, minimize damage, and speed up delivery times," Amazon said in an emailed statement.

While 800 robotic units are already in place at this single facility, Amazon said they aren't meant to replace their human counterparts. 

"We employ the same number of people now that we did before we had the robotics field. The robots just pick up the extra workload," Cathryn Kachura, a flow control specialist from the Denver sorting center, said in a blog post. 

Within six months of their launch in October 2018, the robots have already collectively traveled more than 1.5 million miles throughout the center. 

"We will need to hire more people to help sustain the increased productivity levels," Steve Campbell, director of Amazon robotics product strategy, said in the blog post. "This is the chain reaction of job growth we strive for when designing robotic systems."

Originally published June 5.
June 6: Adds comment from Amazon 

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