Amazon organized a "Picking Challenge" wherein the entrants were asked to build robots that could efficiently sort everyday orders and inventories, according to The Verge.
To determine the winner, the robots pluck a lineup of everyday items from one of Amazon's inventory shelves and place them on top of a table. The items included were a box of Oreos, tennis balls, a pencil cup, a rubber ducky and some books.
Points were given to entrants that could pick up and transfer items without incident. Once an item is dropped or damaged or failed in whatever manner, the entrants lose some points.
After the challenge, Team RBO of the Technical University of Berlin won $20,000 when their robot managed to snag 10 of the 12 items for 20 minutes.
The winning bot of the team combined a number of sensors "including one for object recognition, another to find the base's position in relation to the shelf and a third one to make sure the arm didn't exert too much force when handling items," Engadget reported.
The winning robot moved slower than humans and even struggled with tiny and reflective items.
But Amazon will not let the robots replace human workers, and said that these machines could work alongside its employees.
"We already have over 15,000 robots in our fulfillment centers working alongside our employees," a spokesperson from Amazon said, reported MIT Technology Review. "These technologies enhance jobs for employees, making them in many cases more efficient. Certainly the role for employees is still vital."
Meanwhile, there was a suggestion from the participants to increase the prize to get more breakthrough results in the next competitions.