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Are Humanoid Robots the Processing and Packaging Labor Force of The Future?

With advanced AI software, dexterous “hands,” and full body mobility, will humanoid robots be the answer to the shortage of labor on the packaging line?

Humanoid Robot Apollo Box Conveyor
Apollo shines in tasks that are considered “gross manipulation,” or gross motor function, like grabbing something with both hands.

When I sat down to research this article, I wasn’t sure what I would learn. What exactly are humanoid robots, and are they a viable labor force solution? Can they operate sophisticated equipment or only perform simple tasks? How much faster are they than human workers?

Humanoid robots, or robots that look and move like humans, still look like a thing of the future, but they’re already being used in some industries today and have the potential to report for duty on the packaging line in the near term. General-purpose robots like humanoids are different from the robotics and automation we write about daily here at Packaging World. We’re not talking about one piece of equipment that does one thing (albeit very fast and efficiently). We’re talking about a robot that can be programmed and “taught” to do many things, like kitting, material replenishment, order picking, palletizing, and lifting/loading. Is there a place for a general-purpose robot in packaging facilities today?

General Purpose Means Greater Functionality

The robots mentioned above are programmed to do one task and do it well. General-purpose humanoid robots such as Phoenix from Sanctuary AI, a Canada-based robotics company, can handle a variety of tasks thanks to its full body mobility. This gives users the flexibility of using the humanoid robot to automate any pressing task at any pressing time.

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