Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Robots Chasing Amazon

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.


  1. Due to the fact that Amazon's warehouses are so large, the size of 59 football fields according to the video, these fetching robots can really help the employees retrieve goods and carry them around the ware house. Although the robots are replacing some jobs, they are also creating them by setting up a need for more maintenance workers around the plant. Also, these robots will increase productivity for Amazon by allowing workers to focus more on other tasks. By eliminating the need for employees to have to walk the aisles, individually getting each item, workers will be less tire, have more time for packaging and also will be at less a risk of staining themselves if they have to carry heavy items. One thing that does come to mind as a possible problem with these robots is what happens if the items are not staked properly and the weight distribution causes one to tip over? This obstacle could case a major back up delaying the shipment of hundreds, if not thousands, of orders. I also agree that this is a costly move, but one that could really payoff in the end by decreasing the time it takes to get items out for shipment

  2. I like what Amazon is doing a lot. Building these robots is an excellent way to "maximize efficiency not only during holiday season, but all the time", as Soper stated. I however do not agree with you and the general population about how these robots will take away jobs from people. I think they will help out the workers already there, and maybe even attract other people to work for Amazon, since their job will be aided by these robots. The only downside I see about these robots are if the break or stop working suddenly. Then, all of a sudden, the workers will not know what to do. The other downside may be the price of these robots. It costs a lot to first purchase them and maintain them as well.


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