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Amazon has been granted a patent for a robot that would pack shipping boxes with goods ordered by its customers. In an example offered by the company, the robotic arm would use suction to grab a coffee mug and place it in a box.

The filing was first spotted on Twitter by Nick Wingfield of the New York Times.

Who currently packs the boxes: Human workers. CNN reported late last year that Amazon warehouse employees only spend a minute on each order, including the 15 seconds it takes to pack an item into a box with bubble wrap, tape it shut and send it off for shipping.

Why this matters: Policymakers are trying to understand the impact that increased automation will have on jobs. Researchers associated with McKinsey found recently that' "scenarios suggest that half of today's work activities could be automated by 2055" but that only a small percentage of jobs could be fully automated.

Here's a graphic of all of the things Amazon envisions the robotic arm interacting with:

Amazon / USPTO

Go deeper

Fed chair says low interest rates aren't driving stock market prices

Jerome Powell. Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty Images

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told reporters on Wednesday that rock-bottom interest rates aren't playing a role in driving stock prices higher, while noting that vulnerabilities to the financial system are "moderate."

Why it matters: The statement comes amid unshakeable stock prices and a Reddit-fueled market frenzy — prompting widespread fears of a bubble and the role monetary policy has played in that.

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

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