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Amazon could do away with human forklift drivers

January 10, 2019 / Greg Synek

Amazon's investment into autonomous forklifts could be the beginning of further automation efforts within its supply chain. Combining machine learning with new robotic capabilities has the potential to greatly expedite the process and eliminate the need for more unskilled labor.
It is no secret that Amazon makes heavy use of robots in its warehouse automation process. Short shelf-carrying bots scurry around on the floor to bring products to staff that picks items from bins. Carrying smaller shelves is easy, but there gets to be a point where it is more practical to stack pallets on taller shelves. At the cross over point where forklifts are necessary, most businesses would just hire a few drivers and continue with their operations. Amazon is now making investments into French robotics firm Balyo in order to gain access to technology that can turn regular forklifts into self-driving forklifts. As a result, fewer human employees are needed.