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5.21.19
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Amazon Says It Could Have Fully Automated Warehouses in 10 Years

May 2nd 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Robots & Machines
Amazon/Victor Tangermann

Decade Deadline

Not all of the 125,000 people who work at Amazon warehouses have to worry about losing their jobs to robots — not for 10 years or so, anyways.

On Tuesday, Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, led reporters on a tour of the company’s Baltimore warehouse during which he said it would be “at least 10 years” before Amazon could entirely automate the fulfillment process.

“In the current form, the technology is very limited,” Anderson said, according to Reuters. “The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need.”

Skilled Workers

The problem with bots is that they simply aren’t as adept as humans at the actual process of picking up merchandise — they either damage other products when trying to snag one item out of a bin, or they only pick up one piece of merch when it might be most efficient to grab several.

Training robots to handle and pack fresh food at Amazon warehouses is especially challenging.

“Just imagine if you want bananas,” Reuters quoted Derek Jones, Amazon’s global director of environment, health, and safety, as saying during the tour. “I want my bananas to be firm, others like their bananas to be ripe. How do you get a robot to choose that?”

Still, while robots might not be able to pick the perfect produce just yet, the systems are continuously getting more advanced — making Anderson’s 10-year prediction seem like it might even be on the conservative side.

READ MORE: Amazon dismisses idea automation will eliminate all its warehouse jobs soon [Reuters]

More on Amazon: Amazon Used an AI to Automatically Fire Low-Productivity Workers