In the future, the Amazon group can rely on robots, as the US e-commerce giant’s robotics lab near Boston is working to automate its distribution centers around the world.
“What we’re going to do in the next five years is going to go beyond what we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years,” Amazon’s vice president of robotics Joe Quinlivan said during a press conference Thursday at the innovation center that opened. its doors a year ago. makes in Westborough in the northeastern United States.
The company, founded by Jeff Bezos 28 years ago, unveiled its latest innovation, a yellow robotic arm called “Sparrow” capable of monitoring, selecting and managing “millions of products” of all sizes and shapes.
Unlike its predecessors, which could only direct packages, Sparrow can process agricultural products thanks to its cylindrical tubes that swallow them and deposit them in different baskets.
This should free employees from repetitive tasks to focus on more important activities as well as improve “safety,” Amazon Robotics director Ty Brady said.
Joe Quinlivan explained that about 75 percent of the five billion orders placed by the e-commerce giant are already handled by some kind of robot.
Brady states that “it’s not about machines replacing humans, it’s about machines and humans working together.”
Amazon officials confirmed that the use of robots in the company has led to the creation of more than a million jobs in recent years, particularly in the field of engineering, as well as maintenance, as well as jobs for technicians and operators.
Although the latest figures released in July by the US Census Bureau do not provide any real evidence for the prevailing idea that increased automation of work leads to massive job destruction, the increased use of robots may affect employees negatively.
Although UC Berkeley researchers noted in a 2019 study that technology helped make some tasks in warehouses easier, they noted that it can also help “increase tasks and work pace by adopting new methods of tracking employees.” .
They cited the example of the MissionRacer video game used by Amazon, which has employees race to fill customer orders faster.
According to the same source, employers can also use robots to “reduce the level of qualification required for the job in order to reduce training and hiring costs”, which can lead to “stagnant wages and job insecurity”. .
Amazon accuses its critics of “modern slavery.” It is the second-largest employer in the United States after the giant Walmart distribution company, and has so far managed to prevent employees from forming unions, with the exception of a warehouse in New York.
The group, which acquired robotics company Kiva about a decade ago, is working on software development, artificial intelligence, machine learning, automated processing, simulation, predictive analytics and prototyping.
The company can produce 1,000 robotic units at its Westborough plant.
In an effort to shorten the time between when a customer buys the product and receives it, Amazon also plans to carry out light package deliveries with drones by the end of the year in two cities in California and Texas.