Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo has managed to automate 90 percent of its flagship Tokyo warehouse, the Financial Times reports, adding that the facility includes a two-armed robot that can fold and box T-shirts, a job previously reserved for human staff.
Folding robots – The industrial T-shirt folders come from Japanese robotics startup, Mujin. Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing, partnered with Mujin to equip its flagship Tokyo warehouse with the robots, reducing its reliance on human labor in the process. FT says the innovation could enable the factory to completely automate production.
Rise of the machines — Increased automation and its toll on employment might worry the rest of the developed world — Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful, Andrew Yang, has made it a cornerstone of his campaign — but Japan is embracing it as a potential solution to its aging population, falling birthrates, and shrinking workforce.
Given the stringent checks and measures that surround letting robots and humans work together on factory floors, we’re not expecting to see T-shirt folding robots in our local Uniqlo retail outlet (or laundromat) any time soon. Instead, we’ll have to make do with robo-kitchen restaurants like Spyce and folding our own clothing by hand.