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XPO Logistics says these robots will reduce an employee's walking time in the warehouse and eliminate heavy lifting. Photo: XPO Logistics.

Trucking and supply chain service company XPO Logistics is adding as many as 5,000 robots in its warehouses, where XPO fulfills online orders for its retail clients and other shippers.

Why it matters: Although XPO already used robots alongside its warehouse employees, this is the biggest commitment it has made to automation. But CEO Bradley Jacobs tells Axios more robots will "help with employee recruitment and retention" and aid — not replace — its human workforce.

The details:

  • XPO has a strategic partnership with GreyOrange, a robotics manufacturer.
  • This is part of the company's planned $450 million investment in technology this year, but specific financial terms of this announcement were not disclosed.
  • Each robot can bring racks of products that weigh up to 3,500 pounds to workers in the warehouse to fulfill the orders. XPO says this process will now take 20 to 40 minutes — compared to a couple hours with just human labor — while reducing manual errors.

The bottom line: Companies that operate warehouses and fulfillment centers need to be faster and more efficient to keep up with e-commerce demand. That means more automation. But the question is what happens to the lower-skilled workers whose jobs will inevitably replaced in a more automated economy.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 min ago - Technology

Facebook presses "pause" on Instagram Kids

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook's announcement Monday that it was "pausing development" on Instagram Kids did little to slow a wave of criticism of the project ahead of a Senate hearing Thursday.

Yes, but: There's an argument to be made for building kids' version of popular apps, even if their adult versions are causing real-world harms.

Ford's big plans to turbocharge the electric car industry in the U.S.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ford Motor Company’s new $11 billion manufacturing plan, the biggest component of which will sit just outside Memphis, is part of a much bigger effort to put the U.S. at the center of the electric vehicle revolution, executive chairman Bill Ford says.

The big picture: Ford’s plans — for enormous facilities in both Tennessee and Kentucky, employing a combined 11,000 workers — are ambitious manufacturing efforts designed to minimize their environmental impact.

Court backlogs force prosecutors to dismiss some cases

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The pandemic slowed the criminal justice system to a crawl in much of the U.S., and now an increase in violent crime is straining the system even further.

Why it matters: COVID-19 has caused backlogs in criminal cases across the U.S. to swell, forcing district attorneys to focus on the most violent offenses — and decline, delay or deal down a slew of other cases.

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