Will robots replace humans at Amazon?
The majority of orders are already handled by robots at Amazon .
Are robots the future of Amazon? The American e-commerce giant's robotics lab near Boston is working to automate its distribution centers around the world.
What we are going to do in the next five years will surpass what we have achieved in the last ten years, Joe Quinlivan, vice president of the robotics department at Amazon, said Thursday at a press conference. innovation center inaugurated a year ago in Westborough, in the northeastern United States.
The company, founded 28 years ago by Jeff Bezos, unveiled its latest creation, a robotic yellow arm called Sparrow, capable of detecting, selecting and managing millions of products of all shapes and sizes.
Unlike its predecessors which can only orient packages, Sparrow can manipulate objects thanks to its cylindrical tubes which suck them up and then place them in different baskets.
“Sparrow”, the newest robot of 'Amazon.
This should allow staff to stop performing repetitive tasks to focus on more rewarding and interesting activities while improving safety, says Tye Brady, one of the managers of Amazon Robotics.
Nearly 75% of the 5 billion orders processed by the e-commerce giant are already handled by some type of bot, according to Joe Quinlivan.
“It's not about machines replacing humans. It's more about machines and humans working together”
—Tye Brady, an Amazon Robotics executive
In recent years, the robotization of the company has generated more than a million jobs, specializing in engineering in particular, but also in maintenance. Technical positions have also been created, Amazon officials say.
Amazon's “Hercules” robots, capable of moving piles of objects in the warehouses of the American company.
If the idea that an automation of work would lead to massive job destruction is not supported by the figures published in July by the United States Bureau of Statistics, the increased use of robots can still have consequences for the company's personnel.
While making it possible to lighten certain tasks in warehouses, these technologies can indeed contribute to an increase in work load and pace, with new methods of monitoring employees, warns a research team from the University of Berkeley in a 2019 study.
The team cites the example of the video game Mission Racer, which Amazon uses to challenge its staff members to compel them to assemble customer orders faster.
Robotization can also allow companies to lower the level of qualification needed for a job in order to reduce training and recruitment costs, which can lead to wage stagnation and job insecurity. x27;after the same source.
Robotization can lead to greater monitoring of the personal, according to specialists.
Regularly accused by its critics of modern slavery, Amazon, the second largest employer in the United States after the distribution giant Walmart, has succeeded in repelling all efforts to date its staff to unionize, except in a New York warehouse.
The e-commerce giant, which bought the robotics company Kiva ten years ago, develops computer programs, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic manipulation, simulation, predictive analysis and prototype design.
In particular, the company can produce 1,000 robotic units at its Westborough factory.
In order to shorten the time between when someone buys a product and when it receives it, Amazon also intends to carry out drone deliveries of light packages by the end of the year in two cities in California and the United States. Texas.