With the holiday season approaching, many companies are hiring seasonal help, which can get pricey. Is there any other way to compensate for high demands during this time? What if robots helped the already hired employees become more efficient? Amazon has found a way to make this possible by using Fetch Robotics.
The Robots Chasing Amazon by Spencer Soper discusses how Fetch Robotics can be used to maximize efficiency not only during holiday season, but all the time. These robots follow employees in storage rooms around with a bin on top, wait for the employees to fill the bin, and then return the bin to a place for packing. Once this robot returns, a new one goes to the employee and so on. This means that employees do not have to spend time carrying and returning products to be packed and shipped; they can continue filling bins. Throughout the day, products can be packed and shipped much sooner than they would be without Fetch Robots.
I am sure many people are thinking “great, another form of technology that I need to worry about charging throughout the day, in addition to my phone, laptop, tablet, etc.” Though these robots do need to be charged eventually, they can follow a “briskly walking person” for up to 8 hours without being charged. Since 8 hours is an average work day, these robots do not need to be charged during the day. In addition to this, these robots do not require lunch breaks, nor do they complain about their hunger, like a human employee would.
A concern many people have about these robots is that they are taking away the jobs of many people. At this point, the robots are only maximizing efficiency; however, a robot with cameras and clawed arms is currently being developed. This can cause the people who are now being benefitted from these robots to eventually lose their jobs to them. The article only mentions the employees in storage rooms possibly being replaced; but, I think this is a bigger issue. When I hear about robots that are able to mimic human motions, I fear that they will not only take away the jobs of a few people, but of most people. Eventually, the economy will be ruined because of these robots.
These robots sound like a great way to maximize efficiency in storage rooms, but, as with any form of technology, they may have problems. The article mentions that they can hold up to 150 pounds, but it does not mention what happens if someone accidentally puts too much weight on them. Do they explode? In addition, what if one breaks down on its way to bring the items to packing? Someone would have to figure out that it broke down, which may take a while. Also, what happens when Amazon wants its employees to work after hours? They will have to purchase extra robots since they last 8 hours on a full charge.