Amazon trials humanoid robots to boost warehouse operations

By Zion Rufus

Amazon is pushing the envelope in automation by testing humanoid robots in its US warehouses, underlining the tech giant’s commitment to streamline its operations. Amazon asserts that this move is aimed at liberating its employees to better serve customers.

The online retail behemoth is putting a new robot, known as Digit, to the test. Digit is equipped with arms and legs, enabling it to move, manipulate, and handle items with human-like dexterity. The introduction of robots of this nature showcases Amazon’s ambition to leverage cutting-edge technology to enhance the efficiency of its operations.

In recent years, the platform has significantly increased its use of robots, driven by the need to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. This move into humanoid robots is yet another stride in its continuous efforts to innovate and stay at the forefront of technological advancements within the e-commerce sector.

Meanwhile, the bold step has triggered a response from workers’ unions concerned about the well-being of Amazon’s human employees. Stuart Richards, an organizer at the UK trade union GMB, believes Amazon’s automation could lead to job losses and has criticized the company for treating its workers like robots.

Amazon, in response to concerns, has argued that its robotics systems have facilitated the creation of hundreds of thousands of new job roles within the company, including 700 new job categories that did not previously exist. These new positions often require specific skills.

The company emphasizes that more than 750,000 robots now work collaboratively with human staff. They handle tasks that are highly repetitive in nature, thus freeing up human workers to take on more complex roles that require critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Despite these developments, Tye Brady, Amazon Robotics’ chief technologist, remains adamant that people remain irreplaceable in the fulfillment process. He firmly opposes the notion of fully automated warehouses, emphasizing the value of human capabilities.

In an intriguing departure from the typical wheeled robots used in warehouses, Digit walks on two legs and has arms capable of lifting and moving packages and orders. Scott Dresser of Amazon Robotics clarified that Digit’s ability to navigate stairs and uneven surfaces makes it valuable in diverse warehouse environments. The prototype’s trial phase aims to ensure it can work safely alongside human workers.

Mr. Dresser also stressed that, contrary to fears of job displacement, Amazon’s experience has shown that new technologies, including robots, often lead to job growth and expansion. Robots, while efficient, still require human intervention for maintenance and repair.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.