By Laura Vogel
If you work in retail, restaurant, warehouse, or healthcare, your new coworkers can be robots, not humans. Automation replaces many roles played by people. Robots do not need breaks, do not form unions and can work without stopping. Read on to find the details of automation replacing workers who may get sick with COVID or age outside the workplace.
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Automatic tills are common in supermarkets. But let’s face it, they’re a clunky alternative to the checkout line. Amazon wants to get rid of them all together. Last week, Amazon announced the opening of two Whole Foods markets, one in Washington, DC and the other in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Where it will use its “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology. The company has experimented with this technology in stores in Manhattan and Seattle.
At the upcoming high-tech Whole Foods, customers can wave their hand (after linking a body part image to Amazon’s exclusive payment system Amazon One), use the Amazon app, or swipe a credit card or debit upon entering the store. Then do your shopping as usual and just exit when you’re done. According to the Amazon statement, “[This] The technology is made possible by a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, similar to what you would find in a self-driving car.
In an attempt to address the labor shortage problem, a number of restaurants across the country have started experimenting with robot servers.
In Stockton, Calif., A restaurant employed a robot waiter – cheekily named the Matradee by maker Richtech Robotics – to deliver food to diners. The Matradee is able to open kitchen doors, deliver food, and remove dirty dishes after being loaded there.
Restaurants in Dallas, Texas, and South Tampa, Florida are also experimenting with similar robots. “It helps because of COVID some customers just prefer the robot to deliver to them,” restaurant owner Richard Thai told Fox-13 News of Tampa Bay. “Customers love it. It’s convenient for the waiters and they love it.”
E-commerce has exploded during the pandemic and distribution centers are struggling to keep up. According to trade publication Material Handling & Logistics, warehouses have faced a number of issues, including “aging workers, complications from the pandemic, naturally high turnover rates and intense competition.” These worker-strapped warehouses are turning to robotics and automated solutions to keep pace.
Amazon is no stranger to automation and robots in its warehouses. The retail giant bought robotics company Kiva in 2012 for more than $ 775 million. Earlier this summer, Geekwire reported that the company now has more than 350,000 robots working in its warehouses.
The company’s latest experiments with robots have been to help its human warehouse workers by doing things like collecting packages from high and low shelves and bringing them up to the level of their fellow humans, thereby reducing injury from human workers. repetitive movements.
Amazon’s enormous scale makes robotics a tempting proposition. “We’re finding that large companies are more likely to automate low- and medium-skilled tasks. The reason is that a large retailer like Amazon can occupy a machine and use it to its full potential, which a small retailer cannot, ”says Laurence Ales, associate professor of economics at the Tepper School of Business. from Carnegie Mellon University.
One of the biggest challenges in the e-commerce supply chain is what’s called the ‘last mile,’ which is the distance that products have to travel from leaving a fulfillment center to you, the customer. AxleHire, a company that outsources home and office delivery to gig workers, is testing robots to help solve this problem. For the past year, the company has been testing remote-controlled delivery robots developed by the startup Tortoise in Los Angeles. Last week, AxleHire announced it was expanding the test to other US cities.
And in case sidewalks and roads get too crowded, Google’s parent company Alphabet has developed a consumer drone called Wing, which is currently being tested in Australia. Wing has so far managed to file more than 100,000 deliveries, reports the Verge.
Few industries have been hit harder during the pandemic than healthcare. The duration and intensity of the pandemic has resulted in burnout for many on the ground. A Washington Post – Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted earlier this year before the Delta variant surge found that 3 in 10 health workers considered leaving the field due to the pandemic.
Robots and automation have surprisingly helped. Boston Dynamics’ Spot “dog” robot was used at a Boston hospital to take and monitor patient vital signs, greet patients remotely, and more, National Geographic reported.
At Singapore’s Changi General Hospital, more than 50 robots have been used to clean, make deliveries and even help with patient rehabilitation, CNN reports.
So where will all of this automation leave human workers? Professor Ales says many roles will be lost for fellow mechanics, and “it is likely that [human workers will only] expect to take on hard work to break down into simple parts.