Amazon has started to hire engineers to work on its COVID-19 testing project. The engineers will be working under Lab 126, Amazon’s hardware department that has created the Kindle e-reader and the Echo smart speaker.
Right now, the company is using third-party labs to test its employees for the virus. However, people close to the source believe that the ultimate goal for the e-commerce giant is to develop its own robust testing system in the coming weeks.
Lab 126 has produced a number of groundbreaking products and if there’s any department that can pull this challenge off, then this would be it. According to a statement released by Amazon, the lab will now be focusing on developing solutions that keep Amazon fulfillment centers safe from the virus.
The statement also noted that the lab is looking at ways to automate testing and develop equipment that will be used in house for the same.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the US hard. At the time of writing this article, there were 1.7 million cases and over 100,000 deaths, the highest death toll in the world.
The pandemic has also hit businesses hard. Just recently, several US meat processing companies announced they were closing down after employees working in those plants contracted the virus. The same has also been reported in Ford manufacturing facilities.
But Amazon has stood strong in the face of this pandemic. As people stay home to avoid contracting the virus, online shopping has gained momentum. Amazon has said that it’s working hard to ensure that essentials are delivered to people at home but this opens up its employees to the risk of getting the virus.
The e-commerce giant has confirmed that it has been taking employees’ temperature and enforcing social distancing in all its fulfillment centers but cases of infections have already been reported.
The company thinks that ramping up testing is a key component of maintaining safe operations in these facilities and that’s why it’s tasking Lab 126 with developing a comprehensive plan towards that goal. Although the lab is based in California, the advertised engineering jobs will be based in Hebron, Kentucky, where Amazon operates its biggest air freight hub. Reports indicate that Amazon plans to build its largest testing facility there.
In the near term, the e-commerce provider will leverage its significant air freight capabilities to send the test samples across the US for comprehensive lab tests. It’s also emerging that Lab 126 is in the process of hiring microbiologists at its California facility and other non-engineering staff. This could suggest that the lab is stepping up its capacity in order to take on the testing challenge ahead.
We still don’t have a lot of details about how Amazon plans to go about this. But one thing is clear, the company sees the threat of COVID-19 on its businesses and it’s doing its part to mitigate any risks. There’s also a chance that Amazon could put in place more measures to deal with the pandemic later.