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Robots Welcome to Take Over, as Pandemic Accelerates Automation


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An AMP Robotics system sorts recyclable material at the companys lab in Louisville, CO.

Labor and robotics experts say social-distancing directives could spur more industries to automate.

Credit: Benjamin Rasmussen/The New York Times

Automation had been gradually replacing human work in various industries to reduce labor costs and boost profits prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but labor and robotics experts say social-distancing directives could spur more industries to automate.

As more cities suspend recycling services amid concerns that workers could contract the coronavirus from one another, robots increasingly are being called in to sort through recycled materials.

Robots also are being used by grocery stores to free up employees so they can focus on disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and keeping shelves stocked.

Fully automated stores like Amazon Go could become a more viable option for retailers.

While retailers says robots are augmenting the work of employees, not replacing them, there are concerns that the wave of automation will depress hiring when the recovery occurs.

Said Mark Muro of Brookings Institution, "People become more expensive as companies' revenues decline."

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2020 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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