Long before the pandemic began, the workforce in the U.S. and around the world was changing. Looking to cut costs and increase productivity, many companies decided to bring in workers that didn’t require W-2s: robots.
This trend picked up even more speed after COVID-19 hit, as millions of employees just weren’t willing to go back to work for a variety of reasons.
While robots in factories or labs are nothing new, they are now popping up in quite a few other places, and it might not be long before you encounter one, either directly or indirectly.
They’re lending a (mechanical) hand in a number of industries, including:
Packing and shipping
It’s probably not much of a surprise to learn that Amazon has been utilizing robots in its warehouses for years. However, their recently-launched Proteus is different from the ones they’ve used in the past. The company calls it the “first fully autonomous mobile robot,” and they are actually working alongside humans to move products.
Chances are very good that the restaurants you frequent have had “Help Wanted” signs up for a long time now. And while you probably won’t be seeing any robots in the kitchen anytime soon, food companies are using them for other tasks. Domino’s Pizza, for example, is utilizing them to make dough balls for pizza. Hormel is also making a bigger automation investment due to its lack of workers.
You can’t talk about food these days without mentioning delivery, as many of us like tasty meals to be delivered right to our doors.
Uber Eats recently announced the launch of two pilot programs that involve the autonomous delivery of food. While one involves driverless cars, the other is a lot more interesting. Robots will actually walk (or, more precisely, roll) from restaurants to the homes of people who place orders.
Sure, surveillance cameras and even facial recognition software have been around for a while, but you really need to check out your favorite streaming service’s sci fi section to see actual robot security guards.
But, maybe, not for long! A company called Knightscope makes robots designed to patrol the perimeters of factories, and they’re now also monitoring some parking lots at LAX airport. And yes, they definitely have a Star Wars/Dr. Who vibe.
With our population getting older – and a continuing dearth of home healthcare workers – it may be up to robots to provide care and assistance to seniors. Recently, Toyota unveiled a robot designed to help out with cleaning. It can clear tables, wipe up countertops, and even put dishes in the sink.
Do you think having robot workers is a good idea?
What do you think about this surge of robot workers? Is this a good thing for companies and the economy or would you rather these positions get filled by people?
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