Amazon is Quietly Automating the United States
The world’s biggest fleet of mobile robots now works in the company’s facilities. Amazon’s strategy and Jeff Bezos’ vision of the future suggest it will not stop there.
Amazon’s influence over the American economy has grown remarkably in the last five years. From 2016 to 2021, its share of e-commerce retail gross merchandise volume in the United States grew from 34% to 50%.1 In the same period, its number of employees grew fivefold from 341,000 to 1.6 million.2 Its revenue increased from $134 billion to $470 billion, the third-largest company globally behind Saudi Aramco and Walmart.3 Amazon’s market capitalization is the fifth-largest in the world at $1.2 trillion.4 Besides its primary business in e-commerce, it runs a wide array of products and services in entertainment, retail, and software, most notably Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s largest and most profitable cloud computing company. Though the company trails Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and even IBM in artificial intelligence patents and research papers, Amazon is unmatched in its deployment of physical robots.5 Today, it has the world’s largest commercial mobile robot fleet at 520,000 units and is in the process of acquiring the manufacturer of the world’s largest fleet of homecare robots.