Amazon tests humanoid robots in warehouses

Amazon has said it is trialling new humanoid robots to reduce repetitive tasks in its warehouses.

The e-commerce giant is using Digit, a robot developed by Agility Robotics which can stand on two legs and lift items, to help staff with tote recycling.

Amazon says that the “highly repetitive” process involves picking up and moving empty totes once inventory has been completely picked out of them.

The company already has more than 750,000 robots working collaboratively with employees in its warehouses after launching robotic arm and autonomous mobile robot technology.

Amazon has also announced the launch Sequoia, a new robotic system designed to help fulfil customer orders during peak holiday periods.

The online marketplace said that the technology, which is already operating at one if the business’ fulfilment centres in Houston, Texas, allows it to identify and store inventory it receives at its fulfillment centres up to 75 per cent faster than it can today. This, it says, means it can list items for sale on its platform more quickly.

According to a report by The Guardian, Amazon Robotics’ chief technologist Tye Brady recently said at a media briefing in Seattle that he wanted to eliminate menial, mundane and repetitive tasks and denied that the new robots would lead to job losses.

“We will always need people … I’ve never been around an automated system that works 100% of the time. I don’t think you have as well,” Brady said.

He called humans “irreplaceable” and added: “There’s not any part of me that thinks that would ever be a reality. People are so central to the fulfilment process; the ability to think at a higher level, the ability to diagnose problems.”

“Collaborative robotics involves people. How can we have people be the stars, the spotlight, the centre of the show, when it comes to the jobs that we have to do?

“When we do our job really, really well, our robotic systems just kind of blend into the background to become ubiquitous. You don’t talk about your dishwasher too much in your kitchen. It’s an amazing robot. It’s such a great robot that I don’t even call it a robot.”

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