Humans are becoming less resistant to robots and automation as social distancing is the new normal.

WHAT HAPPENED: Robotics companies are introducing new contact-free delivery solutions to help support social distancing orders. California gave technology company Nuro the go-ahead to trial its driverless delivery car on public roads. Wing, a drone company owned by Google, has experienced heightened demand—making over 1,000 deliveries in 2 weeks.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Pre-COVID, looming fears around public safety and human job losses questioned the future of driverless vehicles and drone delivery. Social distancing has pushed contact-free delivery to the forefront and consumers are now more open to the idea. Postmates started experimenting with robot delivery in September, piloting sidewalk delivery cars in LA. And Walmart partnered with Nuro earlier this year, testing driverless grocery delivery cars in the Houston area.
  • It’s increasingly clear that automation will improve people’s jobs, not replace them. Various companies are turning to automation to keep their businesses operating during the pandemic. Giant Eagle grocery stores are using robots to clean floors, allowing employees to sanitize surfaces and stock shelves. Other companies like recycling facilities, who didn’t invest in automation pre-COVID, wish they had the capabilities to protect employees and stay open. While automation will continue to take human jobs, it will also force companies to transform their workforces and create new roles that will make employee’s lives better and businesses stronger.