A lot of people are rightfully concerned about the impending robot revolution. When robots are introduced to the job market, humans will eventually have to adapt in one way or another. Amazon thinks both humans and robots can coexist in the workplace and will demonstrate this at its new Staten Island order fulfillment center.
Robots and Humans Working Side-by-side
In a perfect world, there would be no reason for human workers to be concerned about their robotic counterparts. Some jobs performed by humans today can certainly benefit greatly from automation and robotics slowly taking over. Granted, this means some jobs will become inaccessible to humans, but it will also create a lot of new opportunities along the way. Amazon is one of those companies where humans and robots can work together in harmony without any problems.
Whether or not that will be the case remains to be seen. We may be finding out sooner rather than later, as the company has unveiled a radical new plan. Amazon aims to open a new order fulfillment center in New York. Not only is this the first center of its kind to come to New York City, but its workforce will also be different from its other order fulfillment centers. This “experiment” may very well set the tone for human-robot workforce collaboration in the future.
The new Staten Island facility will create over 2,250 full-time jobs in the region. That alone is significant, as it shows Amazon will not be moving away from using human employees anytime soon. This may come as a surprise to some people, since Amazon is in a prime position to deploy robots in place of human workers in its fulfillment centers. There will be opportunities for future employees to engage with “advanced robotics” as well. It is not necessarily the selling point most people may be looking for, but it shows collaboration is the only way forward in this regard.
In actuality, humans will not compete with robots or vice versa. Instead, they will all need to learn to work together as one cohesive unit to pick, pack, and ship customer items as quickly and securely as possible. This new facility may also lead to same-day delivery services in New York City moving forward, although that has not been officially confirmed at this stage. It is good to see more jobs being created in the Big Apple, and the US job market can always use a nudge of some sort.
Amazon has been utilizing robotics since 2014. Its Kiva robots aid in shipping products at various Amazon centers throughout the country. Thanks to their ability to carry products to human workers, Amazon can provide faster shipping times for its customers. The current plan is to create robots with the ability to grasp items in addition to shuttling them around. Having robots pick things off shelves will certainly be an interesting change in the industry as a whole. It will also hopefully lead to safer work environments for both robots and humans alike.
Amazon will continue its mission of letting humans play a “crucial role in fulfillment” for the foreseeable future. It is a bit unclear what the company means by this exactly, but it appears there will always be a healthy mix of robots and humans in Amazon’s staff. Some tasks will always be unable to be performed by robots, regardless of how advanced they become in the future. It will be interesting to see whether or not other companies will follow Amazon’s example in this regard.