It has become a ubiquitous fear that robots will one day take over the world, well, now there is a warehouse that's replaced 90% of their staff with robots.
Humanoid tech is growing disturbingly quickly and human and experts believe almost a third of the global workforce will be automated by 2030. A simple look at how factories are changing in the twenty-first century makes this glimpse into the future not hard to imagine. Of course, there is the clever implementation of automated machinery to spare humans from potentially harmful processes, but on the flip side, there is the letting go of human labour in favour of more efficient, commercially fruitful operations.
Take for example Japanese clothing giant, Uniqlo, who just finished transforming one of its warehouses in Tokyo's Ariake district – once mainly staffed by people. Today robots have taken over in doing the work of inspecting and sorting the product, an evolution that has seen 90% of the previous human staff replaced by machinery. The company has recently remodelled the existing warehouse with an automated system created in partnership with Daifuku, a provider of material handling systems.
In a video unveiled this week that offers a glimpse into the workspace large robotic arms can be seen transferring products delivered to the warehouse, reading electronic tags attached to the products and confirming their stock numbers and other information. The products are then moved to storage or for further sorting prior to shipping. Uniqlo’s system uses cardboard to wrap the products before sticking on delivery labels.
The video only shows a total one human worker, who places a red garment into a cardboard box. It is scary, but this is a reality that could soon take over every one of Uniqlo's warehouses as its parent company, the aptly named Fast Retailing, plans to invest 100 billion yen – which is about $890 million – to convert all of its warehouses in Japan and the 11 countries around the world where it operates.
The company is not the only international brand favouring the efficiency of robots over human staff. Amazon has long been working on ways to utilise robotic drones to take over the delivery stage of its retail service. Still, these transformations taking place in companies sparks fears of robots taking over, however, by saying that certain roles won’t be automated, is a bit of an understatement after watching the video below.
Even though Amazon has claimed that some tasks robots just can't do as well as human employees, there is cause to sense falsity in their claims. According to a new report in the information, Brad Porter, who is the vice president and distinguished engineer at Amazon robotics, said that "human pickers are much better at spotting problems such as a leaking jug of laundry detergent before it is shipped to a customer."
That didn’t stop multiple sources with knowledge of Amazon robotics developments from coming forward and revealing that it is, in fact, developing robots that could one day handle the jobs of human pickers. Nor did it stop Mr Porter from saying that, "we need advanced technology and automation to meet customer demand – it’s just that simple."
The many companies out there trying to make things betters seem to achieve an honest outlook on the future of robots in the workplace, but how could all of this prove that 'robots taking over your work' as impossible?