Amazon has warned investors it will spend an extra $1.5 billion across the upcoming holiday season as it looks to capture more Prime memberships by offering a super swift delivery turnaround.
The e-commerce giant spent $35 billion on shipping costs this year, according to a report by CNN Business, which is more than double what it spent two years ago.
“When we have a full drone fleet you’ll be able to order anything and get it in 30 minutes if you live near a hub that’s serviced by drones,” Amazon chief executive of worldwide consumer Jeff Wilke told CNN Business. “That’s only possible because of robotics.”
Amazon already runs a fleet of 200,000 Kiva robots, but if it is to speed up delivery times this number will dramatically increase.
The retailer is now testing four-wheeled delivery robots to roll on pavements, and earlier this month it announced it would invest $40 million in a new state-of-the-art Amazon Robotics facility which will serve “as the company’s epicentre of robotics innovation”.
Amazon Robotics’ new “world-class” facility, set to be opened officially in 2021 in Westborough, Massachusetts, will span 350,000sq ft and create 200 technology and advanced manufacturing jobs.
With this growth comes the question of what Amazon will do with the employees it adds to its workforce once its robots are ready.
“I do worry sometimes when people equate [artificial intelligence] and robotics with job loss,” Wilke said to CNN Business. “If you look at these kinds of technological innovations over the years it tends to be the case they don’t eliminate jobs, they tend to change jobs and change work. This is true for us.”