Amazon gets backlash (and some support) for 'working cell' patent design to put staff in cages

Amazon is causing a stir with a patent design which suggests placing employees in cages.

The patent was granted in 2016 but it has come to light recently after social media criticism regarding the working conditions within Amazon's warehouses.

The metal enclosures plan to help staff deliver merchandise to workers as well as navigate areas populated by automated robots.

It is being described as a 'human transport device' whereby an employee stands above a robotic trolley enclosed by a metal wired cage.

Amazon's 'System and Method for Transporting Personnel within an active Workspace' design. Credit: Free Patents Online

The original patent documents depict a cage designed to carry employees around warehouses.

Amazon said the system was never implemented and the cage was designed for worker's safety.

Since the patent design has been discovered again, Amazon are facing a backlash where several have concluded the cage resembles a 'prison cell'.

A robotic arm is also attached to the cage to allow staff to reach for items.

The idea came from a safety point of view where it may be safer for humans to navigate in warehouses in an enclosed box as the working space becomes more crowded with robots whizzing around carrying out tasks.

Others have also praised the patent for its safety measures comparing the cage to a tractor.

A spokeswoman for Amazon, Lindsay Campbell told Seattle Times: "Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications... Such a cage-like device is not in use in any Amazon fulfilment centres."