10 Takeaways From A3’s Autonomous Mobile Robot and Logistics Conference

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Don't forget your workforce

Robots may automate certain tasks, but on balance, they are creating more jobs than they are displacing, said several conference speakers.

While industrial robots took 50 years to reach 1 million units, AMRs will reach that mark in 2025 after only 10 years, said Erik Nieves, founder of Plus One Robotics. Amazon.com alone has added 350,000 in the past two years, he noted. The online retailer still hires hundreds of thousands of people each holiday season.

“Who’s going to run all these robots?” asked Shannon A. Brown, chief diversity officer at FedEx. “The more robots we have, the less people have to move freight manually. We offer programs to upskill people while bringing robots into the workplace.”

He described how the logistics provider has developed a talent pipeline, including shuttling human pickers from 200 miles away, identifying applicable skills from military veterans, and working with universities in historically under-represented communities.

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1. No one size fits all for the DC of the future

2. Find 'low-hanging fruit' and build 'virtual belts'

3. Start small, but think big

4. Don't underestimate your environment

5. Don't forget your workforce

6. Boston Dynamics looks to commercial future with Stretch

7. The newlywed game

8. Partnerships aim to accelerate AMR adoption

9. Incremental change but big investments

10. Industry increasingly recognizes need for interoperability

Robot Technologies