Amazon currently has over 154,000 employees all over the world, with more than 50,000 working in warehouses. The fact that the company is continually expanding will just add up to this already large number that they will have to pay in order to have their products delivered on time.
Thus, given the known reputation of multinational companies constantly trying to cut down on costs while making bigger profit every year, of which Amazon makes no exception, it is safe to say that a few incessant, competent machines could save the day for the retailer’s expenses.
This might be the reason why Amazon recently hosted a competition to determine if robots could do a better job than its employees working in warehouses to have goods delivered on time to all the customers all over the world who never stop ordering.
The Amazon Picking Challenge, which was held in Seattle over the weekend at a robotics conference, had a warehouse robots tested while performing various tasks. These included grabbing products from shelves and placing them in a recipient. They had to do this autonomously.
However, even if Amazon’s robots prove quite successful at identifying objects from the shelf, they were not that good at picking them up. Other robots proved more successful – this was the case of Team RBO, who was able to pick 10 out of 12 products in 20 minutes and made this robot the winner of the competition. The Technical University of Berlin, who designed the machine, won the first prize, which consisted of $20,000.
However interesting the competition was, it also came with the conclusion that robots are not able yet to replace humans, even if they are quite efficient.
Humans are still faster and even cheaper that these robots. Representatives of Amazon also stated that they have no intention of laying off their workers and have only robots working in their immense warehouses.
As a matter of fact, humans are already working with robots at Amazon. A spokesperson of the company said that there are currently 15,000 robots in their fulfillment centers. “These technologies enhance jobs for employees, making them in many cases more efficient. Certainly the role for employees is still vital,” he added.
Some reviewers of the competition hosted by Amazon said that the company needs to provide a bigger prize if they really want to see spectacular results – that is – robots that could truly replace human activity one day.
For now, it is safe to say that Amazon’s warehouse workers do not face any risk of losing their jobs.
Image Source: gizmag