Amazon is diversifying its workforce with 15,000 robots, in an effort to make the warehouses more efficient and give human workers a bit of a leg break from scouting the warehouse for a single toy. The news was announced in time for the holiday season, Amazon’s busiest time. The e-commerce giant ships millions of items worldwide, rivalled only by Alibaba in China.
The new robot workforce picks “two to three times faster than they used to” according to Rejinaldo Rosales, a worker at one of Amazon’s warehouses. The robots are programmed to pick the correct item and bring it back to staff, who will package it for shipping.
Automation has always been an interesting area for Amazon, alongside efficiency. Rumors in the past said Amazon gave staff roller skates to get around the warehouse faster, showing the level of commitment for just a bit more efficiency from workers. Last year, Amazon was hit with major delays to some packages, resulting in late Christmas gifts. CEO Jeff Bezos does not want the same to happen this year — hence the investment in 15,000 robots.
However, it is not just the “picking” that takes a long time, Amazon is also having trouble sending all of these packages on time. It recently raised the price of Amazon Prime membership — due to fuel costs.
Amazon also has another robot project, called Prime Air. The Seattle based company is planning to have an air-force of small drones to deliver packages to customers, but is awaiting the FAA’s approval.
Amazon is expected to announce record sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the company has been struggling this year, with $544 million operating loss in Q3. The Fire Phone is a major factor in the operating loss — Amazon is currently sitting on $87 million of inventory.