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Amazon warehouse staff fear job security over robot deployment

Amazon warehouse plant in Italy

Amazon warehouse staff fears job security over robot deployment

Amazon is automating its warehouses by launching Digit, a humanoid robot that handles various tasks. 

The initial testing of this two-legged robot commenced this week.

Its primary role will involve the movement of empty tote boxes.

This move to include robotics in the business has raised concerns over the job security of its vast human workforce of approximately 1.5 million employees.

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Tye Brady, the Chief Technologist at Amazon Robotics said that while some roles may become obsolete due to automation, new opportunities will be created.

During a media event at an Amazon facility near Seattle, Brady said he aims to eliminate monotonous and repetitive tasks from its operations.

However, he denied it would lead to workforce reductions, saying that it “does not” mean Amazon will require fewer workers.

He maintained that Amazon considers its human employees indispensable and integral to its fulfilment processes.

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In Brady’s view, a fully automated warehouse is unlikely to become a reality, given the essential role of human intervention.

Digit, developed by Agility Robotics and backed by Amazon, is a versatile robot that can walk in various directions, including forwards, backward, and sideways, as well as being able to crouch.

Standing at 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) and weighing 143 pounds (65 kg), Digit has a maximum carrying capacity of 35 pounds (16 kg). 

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Amazon envisions employing Digit innovatively within its warehouses, particularly in inaccessible areas. 

The robot’s initial task involves the repetitive process of moving empty totes once their contents have been picked.

The automaker Ford were the first company to purchase Digit’s robots, and Amazon’s Industrial Innovation Fund invested in Agility Robotics in the past year.

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