Amazon has unveiled its latest warehouse robot. It states: “Sparrow is the first robotic system in our warehouses that can detect, select and process individual products in our inventory.” The robotic arm uses AI and computer vision to recognize and process millions of items, according to Amazon.
The company says that by deploying robots in its warehouses, it can perform operations more efficiently and safely. “Sparrow will take on repetitive tasks, allowing our employees to spend their time and energy on other things, while also improving security,” Amazon said. “At the same time, Sparrow will help us increase efficiency by automating a critical part of our fulfillment process so we can continue to deliver to customers.” It added that through the use of robots, it has been able to create more than 700 new job categories.
Amazon doesn’t exactly have a spotless track record when it comes to conditions for warehouse workers, especially when it comes to robots. In 2020, the Center for Research Reporting To reveal publication released a report showing that between 2016 and 2019, the rate of serious injuries to Amazon employees in automated warehouses was 50 percent higher than in facilities that don’t use robots.
According to the report, the use of robots led Amazon to increase quotas for employees, requiring them to scan up to 400 items per hour, up from 100 previously. professionals who say the company has used the robots to increase production quotas to the point where people can’t keep up without hurting themselves,” the report reads:.
Last July, it emerged that the US government was investigating Amazon over alleged unsafe working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted inspections that were “related, among other things, to Amazon’s required work rate for its warehouse workers.”
Amazon revealed Sparrow amid a drive by warehouse workers to unify their workplaces, where robots take over in some cases. In March, employees at the JFK8 fulfillment center on Staten Island voted to unionize, becoming the first Amazon warehouse to do so. The company has contested the election results. More recently, workers at a warehouse in Albany, New York, voted against unionization after Amazon ran an anti-union campaign.
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