Sparrow is Amazons’ new robot which can seemingly strike balance between humans and machines. It is curated to pick items from the bins or shelves to send them forward to get packed into orders which will be shipped to customers. It looks like a robotic arm with a set of retractable looking suction cup-like devices on the tips. Although it may sound like an easy job it is really complicated because items are of different sizes, shapes, texture and each weigh different than the other. But Sparrow works through it by taking machine learning and cameras into use in order to identify the distinctions to work with a wide array of products. But Sparrow still struggles with loose and complex packaging.
The company mentioned in a blog post that “Working with our employees, Sparrow will take on repetitive tasks, enabling our employees to focus their time and energy on other things, while also advancing safety.” It was added that “At the same time, Sparrow will help us drive efficiency by automating a critical part of our fulfillment process so we can continue to deliver for customers.”
The Chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, Tye Brady said “No one has the inventory that Amazon has.” He added, “I don’t view it as replacing people, it’s humans and machines working together—not humans versus machines—and if I can allow people to focus on higher level tasks, that’s the win.”.
Use of industrial robots is growing exponentially. It indeed is an e-commerce milestone as it leads to less dependability on human labour to avoid injuries as well as overworking conditions and puts technological advancements and Artificial Intelligence into good use. But it also puts a question on the employment gap and dominance of machines in every sphere. It is not clear yet as to how widely will Sparrow be used or if at all will similar robots be added to other manufacturing and packaging processes of Amazon. There may also be re-designs to the model but the primary task will remain the same.