Jane Ruffino: as robots hit the warehouses, are they saving us from manual jobs, or serving the interests of big firms looking to cut costs?
In mid-2013, Amazon had just under 1,300 robots in its warehouses. This time last year, Amazon announced that it was starting to test out delivery of small packages by drone, as part of its Amazon Prime Air service. Some news outlets grabbed it, while others were more sceptical: even James Ball of the Guardian – normally pretty on top of things – said that it wouldn’t be ready for years, and that pushing it at that time of year made it look like a publicity stunt. That seemed reasonable. After all, we knew people were working on self-driving cars, Mars missions, and drone technology, we’re just used to a long lead time from research to consumer launch.
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