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Amazon Moves to Automate Workforce

Amazon Moves to Automate Workforce
The sparrow robot is able to pick up unpackaged items to sort at Amazon's BOS27 Robotics Innovation Hub in Westborough, Massachusetts on Nov. 10, 2022. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty)

By    |   Thursday, 17 November 2022 11:23 AM EST

With increased demand for expedited delivery, Amazon is looking for ways to cut package processing time. The company’s answer may lie in a fleet of robots that could soon pick and pack the bulk of the 13 million packages it delivers daily.

Axios reports that the company wants to give the most demanding, repetitive tasks to robots and retrain employees for higher skilled jobs.

Tye Brady, chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, told the outlet that robots can make workers’ lives easier.

"If you reframe your relationship with machines, you can gain incredible productivity," Brady said.

Some Amazon warehouse workers have complained of injuries and exhaustion due to speed pressure, and internal company research shows turnover rates so high Amazon could run out of people to hire in its U.S. warehouses by 2024.

According to Axios, approximately 75% of Amazon orders currently use some form of automation as they travel from the warehouse to someone’s porch. Even so, human workers are primarily responsible for pulling individual items and packaging them for delivery.

The e-commerce giant claims to have generated more than 1 million new robot-related jobs and 700 new job categories, including hardware and software engineers and technician, operational and maintenance roles.

The 1,400 participants in a company-paid Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship have seen their pay rise by 40%, Axios reports.

Amazon recently introduced a number of new robots that can move, select, and ship products.

The autonomous "Proteus" can slide under an 800-lb cart laden with packages and move it across a warehouse and robot arms like "Robin" and "Cardinal" can sort and reroute packages to warehouse locations prior to delivery.

"Sparrow," the company’s newest robot, represents a huge advancement in automation, Amazon said.

Using computer vision and artificial intelligence, "Sparrow" can identify, select and sort millions of individual products — unlike other robots, which can only sort a few dozen sizes and types of packages.

The company recently gave a demonstration to showcase "Sparrow’s" abilities at an Amazon robotics facility outside of Boston, which can manufacture up to 330,000 robots per year.

"Sparrow," the company said, can recognize about 65% of Amazon’s inventory and can make the distinction between damaged and undamaged merchandise, getting better as it learns.

"I really think what we're going to do in the next five years is going to dwarf anything we've done in the last 10 years," Amazon Robotics Vice President Joe Quinlivan told Axios.

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Newsfront
With increased demand for expedited delivery, Amazon is looking for ways to cut package processing time.
amazon, robots, automation, workforce
403
2022-23-17
Thursday, 17 November 2022 11:23 AM
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