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Gap Turns to Robots to Fulfill Orders in US Warehouses

Gap Inc.’s warehouses are gearing up for an automated update.

In a recent interview with Reuters, the company said it has accelerated the adoption of robotic stations at its facilities throughout the U.S. to help mitigate warehouse employees’ risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Earlier this year, Gap set out to triple its deployment of item-picking robots to 106 by the fall, a source said. However, once the pandemic struck and there were no longer enough employees to fulfill web orders, the apparel giant decided to expedite the implementation.

According to Reuters, Gap worked with tech startup Kindred AI to deploy 10 eight-foot-tall robotic stations to its warehouse near Nashville, Tenn., and 20 to a facility near Columbus, Ohio. By July, it will finish the rollout to four of five Gap facilities in the U.S.

The machines each handle the same amount of work as four people, boosting both efficiency and safety throughout the supply chain.

Gap isn’t alone in using this form of technology. Robotic warehouse tech company 6 River Systems (6RS) recently released safety-first fulfillment guidelines in which it recommended companies use robots as a fulfillment solution to reduce crowding on the warehouse floor. The company’s robot, Chuck, serves as a go between for employees designated to stay in different zones.

Similarly, AI robotics startup Covariant raised $40 million in funding to expand its artificial intelligence-based robotics platform, indicating the pandemic has strengthened experts’ faith in automation.