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Amazon Hires New Robots ‘Bert’ & ‘Ernie’ To Help Out With Warehouse Tasks
By Mikelle Leow, 14 Jun 2021
Image via Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com
‘Bert’ and ‘Ernie’, two household names symbolizing friendship, have been recruited together to give Amazon’s fulfilment center workers a helping hand. The two new employees here are robots, each with their own job scopes.
As part of an initiative to minimize intensive physical labor and prevent injury, the e-commerce giant is introducing robots to help transport items while human employees focus on more efficient and essential tasks that require critical thinking.
The latest to join its team are ‘Ernie’ and ‘Bert’, with two others—‘Kermit’ and ‘Scooter’—still in training.
Using a mechanized arm, ‘Ernie’ grabs items from a robotic shelf and passes them to human coworkers, so they can access the objects from a safer and more comfortable position. Amazon says that this step might not save time, but it will keep the work environment safe for staffers.
‘Bert’, on the other hand, has more legroom to perform on-the-ground tasks. It is among Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that can roam around independently and simultaneously among other employees. Workers can request for it to move items across the facility, and with enough experience, it could one day transport heavier items.
Soon to join ‘Bert’ as AMRs are ‘Kermit’ and ‘Scooter’, who will autonomously move empty packages across Amazon’s sites. ‘Kermit’, which relies on magnetic tape to move objects, is currently more sophisticated than ‘Scooter’ and will likely be introduced in at least a dozen facilities in North America this year, while ‘Scooter’ will probably help out in at least one warehouse this year.
Amazon has stressed that its deployment of robots hasn’t resulted in a cutback in jobs; in fact, the company has introduced over a million jobs around the globe since first relying on robotics in 2012. It also intends to invest over US$300 million into safety initiatives this year in hopes of eliminating recordable incident rates by 50% in 2025.
[via CNBC, cover image via Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com]
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