Apple iPhones and iPads could soon be built by robots, reports Chinese news publication Xinhua. Over the next three years, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn will replace many of its human workers with an estimated “1 million” robots.
The soulless contraptions will take over duties like spraying, welding and assembly line work, all of which are currently performed by humans.
Currently, the company has a total of about 10,000 robots under its control. That number is said to jump to 300,000 by next year, and 1 million by the year after that, according to Foxconn founder and chairman Terry Gou.
Foxconn is the largest computer components manufacturer in the world, and makes many of the devices produced by Apple, Sony, Nintendo, HP and Nokia. The Xinhua report says that Foxconn currently has 1.2 million employees 1 million of whom work on the Chinese mainland.
Last week, reports surfaced that Foxconn rival Pegatron recently won a bid to be the exclusive producer of Apple’s upcoming iPad 3 tablet. The next iPad is said to land sometime just before Thanksgiving.
While many of Foxconn’s workers will undoubtedly lose their jobs after they are replaced with machines, this may not be an entirely bad thing. The company has been repeatedly accused of having substandard working conditions. An explosion killed three workers in May. And last year, 26 Foxconn employees reportedly tried to kill themselves. Sixteen of those jumped from high buildings on the company campus. Of those, 12 died.
Earlier this month, a 21-year-old employee fell to his death from the factory dormitories. Foxconn Vice President Terry Cheng suggests the young man had been drunk, which caused him to fall.