WASHINGTON D.C. – Businesses preparing to revive their operations by relaxing the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic have a challenge to solve: how to maintain social distance between employees and between them and customers to avoid possible infections.
Modernity proposes a solution: use robots instead of people. Several companies are already working on it.
“Tally” by Simbe Robotics is a robot programmed to move autonomously, without crashing against customers, walls or furniture, and has the ability to work on inventory of merchandise on supermarket shelves.RELATED
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Long before COVID-19 forced the closure of stores worldwide, retailers had introduced robots such as Tally, a self-contained robot that can inventory store shelves and clothing racks. “Tally” is a fully autonomous mobile robot that was designed to help retailers inventory in commercial stores, ”said Brad Bogolea, CEO and Co-Founder of Simbe Robotics at WABNEWS.
The company rents robots like “Tally” to supermarkets, pharmacies and other establishments that need to inventory the merchandise on their shelves. And they expect that in these times of social distancing, more companies will replace employees with robots.
“This creates an opportunity where there is more social distancing in place because the tasks are being performed by a robot and not a person,” Bogolea told VOA.
Brain Corp, another company, makes autonomous robots that can clean floors during the hours when stores are open and avoid running over customers.
“We take on the boring and monotonous task of cleaning floors, which can take two and a half to three hours, four hours in different places, and that is time saved and now the staff can dedicate themselves to providing vital and critical services to maintain everything. clean, ”said Phill Duffy, vice president of Brain Corp., to the VOA.
The pandemic has accelerated those trends as retailers seek to cut costs and keep their customers and employees safe, experts say. [Créditos: AP, Simbe Robotics, Brain Corp, Bossa Nova Robotics].Duffy assures that his mission is to help merchants and entrepreneurs, and not eliminate jobs.
“We are an advanced tool that enables them to function at a higher productive level and really allows them to focus on the highest value tasks that robots are not very good at,” he added.
But economists and unionists worry that automation of jobs could replace more workers, at a time when unemployment is skyrocketing to levels not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Other robots perform simpler functions, such as greeting people at the San Jose, California airport.
“Amelia” is a robot created by the Bossa Nova Robotics firm. The robot interacts with people at the airport.
But while robots have their advantages, they also have potential problems.
“Robots typically do not call to report that they woke up sick, but they do sometimes get damaged,” said Michael Chui of the McKinsey Global Institute. “There are real benefits to automation. And many of the robots are inexpensive. ”