Contrary to popular beliefs, Amazon, while a retail giant, is not the largest retail company in the world. That spot is reserved for Alibaba, and with good reasons. It’s a company that is very important to China’s dominance in the world’s economy, and even it is considering the idea of cutting its workforce.
We’ve talked about the issue of robots replacing humans several times on Sanvada, and that’s because it’s a real problem that has yet to fully materialize. Many experts are in agreement, and Alibaba is proving them correct.
Robots in the Warehouse
One of the reasons why Alibaba is such a retail powerhouse has much to do with its reliance on fewer humans than ever before, even if the amount is minuscule at this time. You see, the company is rocking several robots in its warehouses that are capable of lifting up to 500 kilograms of goods, which is over 1,000 pounds.
Interestingly enough, Alibaba has around 60 of these machines in its smart warehouse, and guess what? They perform up to 70 percent of all the work. Furthermore, they are made to work in close proximity to each other due to several sensors allowing them to make note of where each robot is located.
Because of this, these Alibaba warehouse floor drones never crash into each other, and that’s more impressive than it sounds.
Now, they have not yet reached the point where they can completely replace human workers from the warehouse. The robots still need the assistance of regular workers to place goods on containers and remove them.
That’s not a bad deal for workers because it ultimately means they’ll have a less stressful day. However, in the long run, the future generation will have little choice but to spend big on education because jobs that require physical attributes are on their way out.
How Long Can They Go On a Single Charge?
Alibaba claims their smart warehouse drones are capable of ferrying goods around for up to five hours. Additionally, whenever the system senses that battery life is running low, the bots automatically travel to a charging station, and within five minutes, they are ready to rumble again.
If you’re thinking these machines act similarly to a robot vacuum, then you’re correct. The technology behind these robots is nothing new, but seeing it used in this manner is what makes it amazing.
A new warehouse opened last year in a city known as Huizhou, is home to around 200 robots.
“These 200 robots can process 1 million shipments per day,” said Li Yakun, a worker at the automated warehouse. “They are three times more efficient than manual operations and need to be charged for just one hour after every six hours of use.
“All the robots are automatically connected with each other and they assign shipping tasks themselves without a central control room.”
All About China’s Push for Technological Dominance
Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has made it increasingly clear that he aims to have his country become the leader in many areas of technology, and we’re seeing the seeds being planted for such a future.
Make no mistake, Alibaba’s little robot workers will eventually be sold to companies worldwide, and at an affordable cost when compared to Western competitors.\