BOSTON (CBS) – When you get that next package delivered to your doorstep, chances are robots helped get it to you.
One of the most cutting-edge out there is the Locus robot designed in Wilmington.
The Locus robot is an autonomous mobile robot — think of it as a self-driving car — that works collaboratively with humans usually in a warehouse.
Here’s how the Locus robot works: someone places an order online, Locus sees that order, uses barcodes to go find it in the warehouse, and then lets a human picker know it’s time to load up the cart. The robot just picks it out off the shelf, scans it and drops it right into the tote.
One of the first questions you might have when you see all of those robots zooming around is, will they hit the workers. The Locus robots have an intricate set of lasers and cameras on the front that allow them to see workers, and then figure out how to get around them.
Locus can then head to several other orders and eventually bring them all back to base to be boxed up and shipped.
When you suddenly deploy 50 of these robots across a warehouse, the productivity gains are dramatic.
David Marcantonio helps run the operations at Quiet Logistics in Devens.
Quiet does the shipping for several companies and they’re one of the first companies in the country to rent these locus robots.
“We are picking three times more efficient than we were in the manual building,” said Marcantonio.
But what about the human cost, these robots could mean workers losing their jobs.
Marcantonio says there is a constant labor shortage in the logistics industry, especially in peak shipping seasons like Christmas, when they will ship 60,000 packages in a day.
Locus helps fill that need, and Marcantonio says they also make the job physically easier for the human workers.
“A normal picker could literally walk 20 miles a day around a 300,000 square-foot facility. With the Locus, it’s cutting it down to two miles a day,” said Marcantonio.
In fact, Quiet has found the Locus to be so helpful — it’s ordering another 50 of them.