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Circuit Breaker

Good news: the robot that takes your job might be cute enough to go viral

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It’s some consolation to think the soulless automata that will eventually replace you might also be cute enough to go viral. Just look at this video of orange package-sorting robots working in a warehouse operated by Chinese delivery giant Shentong. They’re capable of handling 200,000 items a day, a spokesperson for the company told the South China Morning Post, and can work 24/7 because they don’t have robot families or feelings of any sort! And just listen to that jangly music: this is basically Pixar!

The bot itself is actually called “Little Orange” and is one of a range of package-sorting devices made by Chinese company Hikvision. Human workers place packages on top of the seat cushion-sized Little Orange bots, with these items scanned and then ferried over to the correct chute. Each bot can carry parcels up to 8 kilograms in weight and travels at a maximum speed of 9.8 feet per second.

Hikvision’s range of package sorting robots. “Little Orange” can be seen bottom center. The other machines are for carrying bigger packages and pallets.
Image: Hikvision

A spokesperson for Hikvision told the Mail Online: “It would take workers five hours to sort the same number of parcels the robots sort in three hours. In addition, workers might make mistakes, handle parcels violently or become stressed and tired under high pressure.”

Of course, there’s no denying these robots do look cute, but it’s interesting to see clips like this go viral. What exactly is the attraction? Is it that the bots look so busy and industrious? Or has pop culture just taught us to anthropomorphize machines of all shapes and sizes? And does it even matter if we enjoy watching clips like this when automation really is taking human jobs? Please, fight it out in the comment section below, before we get robo-debaters to do it for you.