Amazon executive admits cage for employees was a 'bad idea'

Blueprints of the proposed cage.
Blueprints of the proposed cage. Photo credit: Anatomy of an AI System

Amazon admits a patent that involved putting human employees in cages to transport them around areas populated by robots was a "bad idea".

The 2016 patent titled "System and method for transporting personnel within an active workspace," is designed to safely allow humans to navigate areas highly populated with robots.

The model encases the employee in a metal cage with a robotic arm attached and operated from inside to allow the employee to pick up items and make repairs.

In a case study called Anatomy of an Al System, it was described how "the worker becomes a part of a mechanic ballet, held upright in a cage which dictates and constrains their movement."

The study was composed by Kate Crawford, a Microsoft researcher and Vladan Joler, a professor at the University of Novi Sad in Serbia.

Amazon has since indicated it doesn't intend to use the cages. 

An Amazon spokesperson told CBS News: "Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications."

Senior Vice President of Amazon Dave Clark wrote on Twitter that the company had no plans to use the design.

"Sometimes even bad ideas get submitted for patents. This was never used and we have no plans for usage," Mr Clark wrote in a Tweet. 

Additionally, he added they created a better solution a vest for employees which stops robots in close proximity moving.

Amazon has come under fire for its treatment of employees in the past protests and stories of poor working conditions in the fulfilment centres have plagued the company.