Bezos expects 10K robots at Amazon warehouses by year's end

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Amazon.com plans to aggressively expand its use of robots at it warehouses in 2014, rolling out 10,000 of them by the end of the year.

Chief Executive Jeff Bezos told investors at Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday that the company has about 1,000 robots picking products today.

The robots are made by Kiva Systems, a company Amazon purchased two years ago for $775 million in a bid to further automate its warehouses. Last October, the company said it had deployed 1,382 robots in three warehouses.

The robot rollout was the only bit of news at the largely scripted meeting, held for the second year at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Bezos repeated his standard mantra that, even in Amazon’s 19th year, it remains “Day One,” with the company focused on seizing new opportunities.

During the question-and-answer session, Bezos quickly dispatched queries from individuals representing those challenging Amazon policies.

When a questioner representing the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research asked if Amazon would support an employee policy protecting private political dealings, Bezos said the issues are “complicated, and we’ll continue to look at them.”

On a question about stopping the sale of foie gras on Amazon’s site by third-party merchants, Bezos responded that it’s “an active issue and one we’re looking at.” Critics object to the sale of foie gras because the methods to make it involve force-feeding ducks and geese.

And Bezos referred a question about efforts to unionize the security staff at the company to Tim Halladay, vice president of finance operations. Halladay told the guard who asked the question that the dispute was with Security Industry Specialists, with whom Amazon contracts.

Bezos didn’t face a single question about Amazon’s stock, even though the shares have slid 25 percent since the start of the year.

One shareholder asked Bezos about the company’s penchant for saying little to media. “We talk when we have something to say,” Bezos said. “I don’t think of us as secretive. I think of us as quiet.”