technology trend: automation

2017 November 29

warehouse automation gathers pace at amazon

Amazon currently has over 100,000 robots working in its worldwide operations.  Take a peek inside an Amazon warehouse and you will glimpse a scary future; hundreds of small robots programmed to carry out repetitive, mundane tasks faster than their human counterparts.

As automation continues apace at Amazon, displaced workers are absorbed into new roles; sometimes babysitting the robots themselves! Amazon says that they want the machines to perform the most monotonous tasks, leaving people to do jobs that engage them mentally.

"It’s a new item each time.  You’re finding something, you’re inspecting things, you’re engaging your mind in a way that I think is important." - Dave Clark, executive in charge of operations at Amazon


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These robots are permitting huge efficiencies at companies like Amazon and slashing time spent on product handling and improving efficiencies in warehouse space management, e.g.  aisles traditionally used for humans are no longer required so product can be stacked side by side. Robots on an assembly line or in a huge warehouse is one thing, but companies are also beginning to experiment with robots to help-out in bars and restaurants. US pizza start-up, Zume which serves the San Francisco area has invested in 5 kitchen robots to make their pizzas to the same high-quality each and every time. These robots are affectionately named, Pepe, Georgio, Marta, Bruno and Vincenzo! 

Consumers can place orders via a mobile app and then track the order through to delivery which will be made either by scooter, car or their especially adapted Zume trucks that carry smart ovens to keep the pizzas ‘oven fresh’. Other fast food outlets are busy trialling robot delivery services as reported in our May 2017 article ‘last mile’. 

>< opinion

Automation is creeping into everyday life and promises to take on many of the mundane tasks we find ourselves carrying out every day. The implications of a societal shift towards automation, AI and the IoT are vast but on an individual level, there is something appealing about robots -  have you ever watched a robot cut the grass? It’s undeniable we’re going to have to get used to watching a robot mix our drinks and flip pancakes as well as delivering our packages.

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