Kiva Robot

Anyone else remember those few episodes of South Park featuring the local boys who lost their jobs to one thing or another?  You know, where they end up getting together on camera shrieking incoherently about how something “Derk ahr jerrrrrbs!“?

Well, look for that to happen at least somewhat in real life, as robots are now handling order fulfillment services at two Boston Scientific warehouses, one in New England and one in the Netherlands.

I wonder what “Dey derk are jerrrbs!” sounds like in Dutch?  But anyway, I’m digressing.  Kiva Systems Mobile Drive Units, their full name, aren’t just in Boston Scientific.  Kiva units can be found in companies like Zappos, Staples and, but this may be the first time that Kiva units have been involved in something as important as medical supply order fulfillment.

Kivas receive orders from a central processor, which in turn directs the robots to go to a specific section of storage and retrieve goods, bringing them back to a different location for processing.

The human cost to this approach is, naturally, incalculable.  In an era where jobs are already tough enough to find even for the highly educated, warehousing jobs being lost to robots must come as an especially painful blow.