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News Roundup: Holiday Gifts from Drones?

December 20, 2019 Updated: September 8, 2020

Amazon Robots Mark the Holiday Season With More Worker Injuries

With the increased automation of Amazon warehouse facilities, studies are showing it is driving more serious worker injuries. It’s due in part to the rapidly increasing pace at robotics-enhanced warehouses – usually forcing employees to quadruple the rate of work. This is an especially serious problem during the holiday season when Amazon’s “ferocious speed is on full display,” with injury reports spiking every year on Cyber Monday.

In one warehouse, the debut of robots quadrupled the rate of severe injuries. This might have shoppers thinking twice about their holiday shopping this year.

Would You Let a Robot Care for Your Mother During the Holidays?

With many elderly parents isolated during the holidays, family members may be considering a robot. It’s not that far-fetched as robots are now being employed to care for the elderly and home-bound. The artificial intelligence are intended to help seniors remember to take medications or walks.

But experts are concerned that they are beginning to substitute for real human relationships. “It’s deception technology,” writes one researcher – and does it cross the line between caring for our elderly relatives or exploiting them?

What’s Next? Robot Santa?

The flagship Bloomingdales in New York City has turned their holiday displays over to the robots. Rather than traditional window decorations, the store is using robots to decorate, play music and even serve coffee to customers. When consumers make the trip to the mall for holiday shopping, they go for the in-person customer service they can’t get online.

With new reports that demand for mall Santas actually up this year, retailers might want to reconsider plans to cut this part of the holiday shopping experience.

Number of the Week: More than 2 Billion

That’s how many packages USPS, FedEx and UPS will deliver this holiday season, with more than 50 percent of the cost coming from labor. That’s why more and more startups are trying to deliver packages via drone or robot. But they haven’t delivered on their ambitious promises yet. No word either on how the drone will deal with the rain, snow or gloom of night that famously never stops the couriers of the U.S. Postal Service.

Any upcoming stories about the impact of automation on the retail industry and the economy?

If you’re interested in speaking with UFCW, email awhite@www.ufcw.org for a quote, statistics, or interviews with workers in retail and other sectors of the economy.

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