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Amazon reveals 'anti-robot vest' to protect workers from machines
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Amazon reveals 'anti-robot vest' to protect workers from machines
Amazon has given its warehouse workers new tech-enabled vests to protect them from robot-related crashes.  The e-commerce giant's new "Robot Tech Vest" is equipped with sensors to alert Amazon's robots to a human's presence forcing them to slow down to avoid collisions. The vests, which look similar to a utility belt, were designed to allow warehouse workers and engineers to easily retrieve fallen items within tightly packed aisles and repair robotic systems. Brad Porter, robotics vice president at Amazon, told TechCrunch that it replaces a previous system that required employees to block out areas of the warehouse where they planned to operate. "What the vest allows the robots to do is detect the human from farther away and smartly update its travel plan to steer clear without the need for the associate to explicitly mark out those zones," he said. The vests have been rolled out across 25 of Amazon's sites worldwide weeks after a robot accidentally hospitalised 24 of its human colleagues in the US after breaking open a pressurised can of bear repellent. Amazon has over a dozen warehouses in the UK and has invested heavily in expanding its staff numbers, many of whom work with its fleet of shelf-moving robots. However, the company has been subject to scrutiny over health and safety measures, after an FOI request made by the union GMB last year showed over 440 health and safety incidents at its UK warehouses since 2015.  At the time, Amazon said it was a safe place to work and that reports to the contrary were "simply wrong". The company has not yet confirmed whether it has rolled the vests out across its sites in the UK.
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