Apr 15, 2021

ECB survey shows Europeans want digital euro to be private

Digital
Banking
Euro
Tilly Kenyon
2 min
A survey carried out by The European Central Bank has been published showing what eurozone citizens want from a digital euro
A survey carried out by The European Central Bank has been published showing what eurozone citizens want from a digital euro...

The European Central Bank (ECB) has published the results of a public consultation on a digital euro with responses citing they want it to be private, safe and cheap. 

The results show that what the public and professionals want the most from a digital currency is privacy (43 per cent), followed by security (18 per cent), the ability to pay across the euro area (11 per cent), no additional costs (9 per cent) and offline usability (8 per cent).

More than two-thirds of the respondents acknowledged the importance of intermediaries providing innovative services that allow access to a digital euro and indicate that it should be integrated into existing banking and payment systems. They would like additional services provided on top of basic digital euro payments.

Around a quarter of respondents take the view that a digital euro should make cross-border payments faster and cheaper and want the digital euro to be usable outside the euro area, although with limits.

“A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs of Europeans,” says ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta. 

The consultation, which launched on 12th October 2020, concluded on 12th January 2021. There were over 8,200 responses, a record participation for an ECB public consultation. The majority of respondents were private citizens (94 per cent), with the rest being professionals such as banks, payment service providers and tech companies. Most responses came from Germany (47 per cent), Italy (15 per cent) and France (11 per cent). 

What is a digital euro?

Digitalisation has rapidly spread across many sectors, and possibly even more so with money and banking during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The digital euro would be an electronic form of money, which would not replace cash, issued by the Eurosystem (the ECB and national central banks) and accessible to all citizens and firms. According to the ECB “a digital euro would guarantee that citizens in the euro area can maintain costless access to a simple, universally accepted, safe and trusted means of payment.” 

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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