Charlie Leslie ’18: Amazon Robotics Internship Journal

This summer I have spent the last two weeks working at Amazon Robotics (AR). AR was formerly Kiva Systems before it was bought by Amazon in 2012. From the moment I walked through the building on my first day, I knew that my internship was going to be a homerun. Imagine the coolest place you have ever been and then make it better and that is what AR is like. From amazing robotics to free coffee and cereal, I could not have asked for a better opportunity. I work as part of a testing team, which consists of me and six college co-op students. I normally arrive to work at 8:30 and begin my task for the day. For my first week, I spent almost all of my time dedicated to testing robotic arms. I learned so much from this experience. One example of something I learned is some basic coding which is something I never dreamed of knowing. To test the arm, I scanned in trays full of miscellaneous objects that simulated real Amazon orders, then typed in the code to activate the robot. The robot then proceeded to pick up items and move to a new location. The main purpose of my testing was to record when the robot had a failure, such as dropping and object. Though there was a bit of a learning curve, by the end of my first week I was tearing through trays.

Everyone at AR has been so friendly and helpful and I already feel like a member of the community after just two weeks. In my second week, I did a wide variety of tasks in the warehouse section of the building. I started the week off by gluing magnets to trays with what was basically tar. By the end of the day, my hands were stained black with the adhesive but I was able to finish gluing magnets on to every tray. The next day I did a complete 180 and was now doing vision testing and online ordering. When an object goes missing from a tray my team is responsible for ordering the exact same item again. However, if an object can’t be found online, one of us has to drive around trying to find the object. I spent the morning driving to random stores looking for a specific type of badminton birdie. In the afternoon I did vision testing which consisted of using a 3D scanner to find the dimensions of an object and then running it through a program that reconstructed a digital model of the object. On Friday, I got the opportunity to build testing stations out of these kits. This was certainly challenging because all the kits were missing pieces and there were no instructions.

In just two short weeks I have learned so much more than I could have expected. I have learned about robotics but also all about what it is like to work in a business environment. From attending meetings to managing my own schedule and money, this experience has been truly amazing. I could not have asked for a better opportunity.