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After relying on Kiva Systems’ smart robots and automation technology to make its fulfillment centers incredibly efficient for years, Amazon has finally decided to commit.

The online shopping giant announced today that it’s buying Kiva Systems for $775 million in cash — a move that will surely give Amazon the leg-up in dealing with crowded warehouses, compared to other online retailers.

Here’s how Kiva describes its tech: “Using hundreds of autonomous mobile robots and sophisticated control software, the Kiva Mobile-robotic Fulfillment System enables extremely fast cycle times with reduced labor requirements, from receiving to picking to shipping. The result is a building that is quick and low-cost to set up, inexpensive to operate and easy to change anywhere in the world.”

“Kiva customers will continue to receive service and support after the transaction,” Mary Osako, an Amazon spokesperson, told VentureBeat in an e-mail. “We are still evaluating how and where we will use Kiva technology at Amazon.”

The cynical side of me wonders if Amazon could eventually keep Kiva’s technology all to itself, which would significantly hurt competitors. Alternatively — and far more likely — competitors will just have to get used to relying on Amazon to keep their warehouses in line.

You can check out Kiva’s smart robots in action in the video below.


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