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A Kiva robot in action
A Kiva robot in action

Amazon is significantly ramping up its use of warehouse robots from its Kiva Systems subsidiary — expecting to have 10,000 of the robots deployed in its warehouses around the world by the end of the year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said this morning at the company’s annual meeting in Seattle.

That’s up from around 1,000 robots in Amazon warehouses currently.

It’s part of a broader effort by the company to increase the level of automation to make its fulfillment centers more efficient. Kiva robots include mobile shelving systems that automatically deliver items to employees.

Amazon bought Kiva Systems for $775 million in 2012. Speaking at the meeting, Bezos didn’t explain why the company is ramping up the deployment so significantly. We’ve asked Amazon representatives for more information on how the increase in automation might impact employment growth in the facilities.

[Update: An Amazon spokeswoman says the robot ramp-up won’t affect employment levels or the rate of hiring in the fulfillment centers.]

According to numbers shown by Bezos this morning, Amazon has 96 fulfillment centers around the world, a net increase of seven over the past year.

In other warehouse news, Bezos said the company’s new facility tours are sold out through 2015. He also gave an update on the company’s Career Choice program that funds tuition for warehouse employees, citing the example of one former Amazon worker who has become a nurse as a result of the program.

More from Amazon’s annual meeting

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