Humans will continue to play an important role in Amazon’s warehouses for at least the next decade and probably well beyond that. Robots just aren’t that good yet.
Apparently, we have nothing to fear from robots taking all our jobs away, at least not for the next decade. That’s according to Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment.
As Reuters reports, while robot automation will continue to play a bigger role in how businesses function, when it comes to dealing with products stored in warehouses they fall well short of handling the whole process. Anderson says, “In the current form, the technology is very limited. The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need.”
Derek Jones, Amazon’s global director of environment, health and safety, backed up Anderson’s claim stating, “Just imagine if you want bananas. I want my bananas to be firm, others like their bananas to be ripe. How do you get a robot to choose that?”
When it comes to robots, you have to assume Amazon knows what it’s talking about. The company acquired robotics company Kiva Systems back in 2012 and has continued to develop and integrate robots into its workforce ever since. We’re also seeing Amazon push for drones to carry out deliveries, but also technology is appearing to allow Amazon employees to better work alongside robots. Examples of this include Amazon being granted a patent for workers in robot cages and a tech vest that protects humans from robots.
As far as Amazon is concerned, robots will continue to play an important role in its operations, but the full automation of someone ordering a product and having it delivered to their door won’t happen for at least 10 years. That’s good news for warehouse workers, but also anyone working in the field of robotics as there’s still a lot of work to do and breakthroughs to make, both of which Amazon is clearly very keen to see happen.
Anderson also revealed two other interesting bits of information about internal processes at Amazon. The first is the company’s target of four hours from when an order is placed to when it leaves the warehouse. The other regards Amazon’s recent decision to make one-day shipping the standard on Amazon Prime, which will be achieved by tweaking the transportation and delivery process rather than how its warehouses operate.