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Walmart tests robots across 50 US stores

RBR Staff Writer Published 30 October 2017

Retail giant Walmart is expanding shelf-scanning robots testing to 50 stores across the US.

The robots will perform tasks such as scanning shelves to check inventory, prices and misplaced items, if any. Using robots will affect any jobs, as per the company and it could lead to improved efficiency and productivity.

Robots placed in a store will begin scanning of the aisles and when the scanning is complete, the results are sent to employees, who will react to or correct the problems that have been found.

Presently, the robots are only limited to scanning the aisles but may not be a replacement for humans, as the present technology limits robots to lift or to carry objects. That task is still the responsibility of people to take care of.

The bots are supported by 3D imaging technology which allows them to dodge objects, obstacles and especially people in the store.

They are expected to be introduced next month. By next January, these robots could be introduced at places such as El Paso, Jacksonville and Fort Worth.

Walmart is experimenting with robots to collect and analyze additional data as they can be programmed to take up those tasks.

Arkansas Online quoted Walmart US central operations vice president John Crecelius saying: “If you think about trying to go through a facility with all these different [items] and figure out if your prices are accurate, it can be very time-consuming.

"Then to try to figure out what to do about it. Imagine how much time you've lost in doing all that."

The robots for this experiment are being supplied by Bossa Nova Robotics. These robots are claimed to have been developed since five years and three years ago, the retail giant partnered with the robotics company.

Image: Walmart’s robots are expected to make employees’ work easier at stores. Photo: Courtesy of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.