2014: Year of the robot?

They work without pay, never tire or complain, and are positively incapable of unionizing: Robots were on the rise in 2014.

Android_robotIn July, Daimler demonstrated a self-driving truck. The “Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025” can respond to traffic while driving completely autonomously down a freeway at speeds of up to 52 miles per hour. The idea, says the company, is that a driver sits in the cab to take over when something goes wrong. But who knows? Maybe that could eventually be done remotely, one worker overseeing multiple trucks.

Then on Nov. 30, Amazon opened its doors to reveal that its warehouses are now staffed by a reserve army of robots. Over the summer, the company put more than 15,000 robots to work in 10 U.S. warehouses. The robots bring shelving units to human workers, who pick items off the shelves and box them for shipping. The robots then return the shelves to their location in the warehouse.

And in December, a Lowe’s home improvement store in San Jose debuted a customer service robot. The OSHbot greets shoppers, asks them what they’re looking for, uses voice recognition to listen to their answer, and then tells them where it is in the store. It can even take them there.

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