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San Francisco USPS Uses Large Robot To Sort Packages During Holiday Shopping Frenzy

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The U.S. Postal Service is using new technology to handle the delivery challenges of this year's holiday shopping rush.

A large new robot called the Universal Sorting System is what will make sure your packages are getting under the tree on time.

Postal officials say packages have always been a challenge to sort; on the busiest day of the busiest mail week of the entire year, with so many people shopping online, USPS has upgraded their technology at San Francisco processing and distribution center.

usps robot
USPS' Universal Sorting System helps the SF distribution center get through the holiday shopping frenzy (CBS)

"We have three dumpers here, it takes it, singulates it along down the line and on this side is a six camera tunnel that reads the label," explained USPS employee Pedro Ortiz.

After the robot reads the label, it quickly puts the packages into the correct pile. Officials say it used to take 10 people to sort 200 packages every hour. Now, with the help of the Universal Sorting System, they can sort 2,200 packages per hour.

"It helps us to sort packages quicker. We don't need as many manual hands as we used to. But we still need people to run the machines and deliver the mail," said San Francisco postmaster Douglas Smith.

Ortiz jokingly said that people won't be replaced with robots "for now."

This year's deadlines for shipping Christmas gifts online are as follows:

Monday was the last day for FedEx ground delivery, Wednesday is the deadline for Amazon standard shipping, Thursday is the last day for UPS Three Day shipping and Friday is the last day for FedEx and UPS Two Day shipping.


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