June 16, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Amazon’s Lab126 Hardware Team Switches Focus to COVID-19 Testing

2 min read

(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Amazon Lab126—the folks behind Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and Echo speakers—is hiring engineers for its COVID-19 testing initiative.

According to a series of job listings, spotted this week by GeekWire, mechanical design engineers (MDEs) will “investigate and introduce new technology and methodology to enhance quality and efficiency” of coronavirus testing, among other responsibilities.

The R&D firm launched in 2004 as an Amazon subsidiary, and has since given us the Kindle, Fire tablet, Fire TV, Fire Phone, Amazon Echo, and Echo Dot. Now, amidst a global pandemic, Lab126 has been re-tasked with helping to keep Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers safe for employees, the job post said.

Senior MDEs will serve as the main interface between the development and operations teams, responsible for “defining, implementing, and qualifying equipment and automation.” And you’ll have to do it from Hebron, Ky., near Cincinnati, future home to a large Amazon Prime Air hub. The idea, The Verge explained, is to fly samples from U.S. warehouses to the testing lab via Amazon’s cargo jets. The company is also looking for medical technicians, scientists, and lab assistants to work on the project.

This isn’t the first time Amazon employees have been enlisted to join the COVID-19 fight. Members of the Prime Air mechanical design and hardware teams have been tasked with 3D printing face shields for sale by Amazon. Those staff members whose role can “effectively be done from home” are encouraged to stay inside and telecommute.

“For our part, we’ve begun the work of building incremental testing capacity,” Amazon said in April. “A team of Amazonians with a variety of skills—from research scientists and program managers to procurement specialists and software engineers—have moved from their normal day jobs onto a dedicated team to work on this initiative.”

When all is said and done, the company expects to spend $4 billion on personal protective equipment, cleaning company facilities, and raising wages for workers. Another $300 million will go toward funding an in-house COVID-19 testing process to screen employees for the virus.

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