MrSeb writes: "In Kurt Vonnegut’s 'Player Piano,' workers displaced by robots find themselves with an abundance of material goods but a lack of jobs. Watching robots like those from Kiva — recently acquired by Amazon for nearly a billion dollars — zip around warehouses fetching products, it’s easy to wonder whether his dark vision of the future is becoming part of ours. The last 50 years have seen dramatic advances in robotic technology and machines have been made suitable for a dramatically increased number of tasks. The path hasn’t been smooth, though, and it hasn’t proceeded in a way anyone expected, but robots are coming of age in one area after another — most recently warehouse automation. Warehouse robots are a logical evolution of the conveyor belt. They are highly mobile and capable of navigating themselves around the complex environment of a distribution facility. Often they have no arms at all, and simply act as glorified, motorized hydraulic jacks, ferrying loads from one place to another. If you've ever wondered how Amazon keeps its prices low, here's your answer: It's the robots."
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