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Amazon seeks to remove barcodes from inventory tracking

2022-12-12 19:54 by


Amazon has announced it has developed a new camera system that can identify products at its warehouse facilities and may eventually eliminate the need for barcodes.

Amazon calls the system "multimodal" because it leverages multiple pieces of data about an object, for example its appearance and dimensions, to identify it. The goal is to allow robots to pick up and move items without requiring them to find and scan a barcode. Amazon currently uses the technology in warehouses in Hamburg and Barcelona, where it monitors products rolling down a conveyor belt on their way to being shipped. So-called physical mismatches, when the items on the belt don't match the ones listed in inventory, are rare but add up when you're operating at the scale of an Amazon warehouse.

The images captured are added to the database to train the system to be more accurate. Currently it's at 99% accuracy, Amazon says. This is because the company's inventory system knows exactly where each item is at every step of the fulfillment process.

"Our north star vision is to use this in robotic manipulation," Nontas Antonakos, an applied science manager in Amazon's computer vision group in Berlin who led the MMID team when the concept was initially developed and deployed, in a corporate blog post. "Solving this problem, so robots can pick up items and process them without needing to find and scan a barcode, is fundamental. It will help us get packages to customers more quickly and accurately. And MMID is a cornerstone for achieving this."

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