'We will always need people' | Amazon introduces human-like robots into warehouses

Amazon introduces human-like robots into warehouses

Amazon has introduced humanoid robots into their warehouse in a bid to automate its workflow.

The tech giant is testing Digit, a robot with two legs and arms, that can pick up 16kg worth of items and empty boxes.

The robots, which are already operating in Amazon warehouses, aim to “eliminate all the menial, mundane and repetitive” tasks.

Yet, Amazon bosses reassure that Amazon staff are “irreplaceable” and the introduction of this new technology doesn’t mean there will be fewer warehouse workers.

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When probed about whether the company could become fully automated, Tye Brady, the chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, said: “There’s not any part of me that thinks that would ever be a reality. People are so central to the fulfillment process; the ability to think at a higher level, the ability to diagnose problems.

“We will always need people … I’ve never been around an automated system that works 100% of the time. I don’t think you have as well.”

Amazon says they expect the new technology to work “collaboratively” with existing employees and help staff with menial tasks such as “picking up and moving empty totes”.

Amazon has also announced the introduction of a robotic system called Sequoia at a Houston warehouse, which will be used to speed up deliveries, storing inventory 75% faster and reducing the time of orders by as much as 25%.

But Brady emphasises the ability of technology to augment jobs and not replace human-oriented work. He continued: “When we do our job really, really well, our robotic systems just kind of blend into the background to become ubiquitous. You don’t talk about your dishwasher too much in your kitchen. It’s an amazing robot. It’s such a great robot that I don’t even call it a robot.”

This announcement comes as Amazon also revealed it will start using drone technology to deliver parcels at record time - the impact this is likely to have on the jobs of delivery people may be concerning to some, however the company says the technology improves efficiency and is hundreds of times safer than driving.

Notably, these advances in technology are taking place in industries where widespread strikes are taking place, and employees are demanding better working conditions and pay. With the use of robotics, employers may be able to bypass these demands altogether.

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