Our New Robots Are Here to Help Human Staff, Not Replace Them Says Walmart

  It’s hard work keeping the shelves stocked at one of Walmart’s massive stores. That’s why the company has decided to roll out a little high-tech help for its associates. Walmart recently welcomed a new robotic inventory specialist to the retail floor. It’s a squat little two-foot-tall bot with a mast that extends a couple extra feet. Inside that mast is an array of sensors that help it perform its duties.  As the bot rolls slowly down an aisle it scans the shelves (the render above shows a representation of how its scanners see the world). It can check for a variety of inventory issues, like blank spots where an item has sold out, incorrect or missing price tags, and items that have been misplaced. According to the company, the bots can complete their scanning rounds about 50% fast than their human co-workers. Walmart CTO Jeremy King told Reuters “If you are running up and down the aisle and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well.” He added that it’s also not a task that associates enjoy all that much. These bots aren’t here to replace anyone either. Instead, the goal is to free up associates’ time so they can do things that people are better suited to — like providing assistance to customers and making sure the store looks like a place where shoppers want to spend their hard-earned cash.  For now, the robots have been dispatched to a limited number of Walmart stores in California, Pennsylvania, and the company’s home turf of Arkansas. If they live up to the hype, you may very well see one of these shelf scanning automatons in your local Walmart in the near future. Here’s hoping they play well with Walmart’s robotic shopping carts.

It’s hard work keeping the shelves stocked at one of Walmart’s massive stores. That’s why the company has decided to roll out a little high-tech help for its associates.
Walmart recently welcomed a new robotic inventory specialist to the retail floor. It’s a squat little two-foot-tall bot with a mast that extends a couple extra feet. Inside that mast is an array of sensors that help it perform its duties.
As the bot rolls slowly down an aisle it scans the shelves (the render above shows a representation of how its scanners see the world). It can check for a variety of inventory issues, like blank spots where an item has sold out, incorrect or missing price tags, and items that have been misplaced. According to the company, the bots can complete their scanning rounds about 50% fast than their human co-workers.


Walmart CTO Jeremy King told Reuters “If you are running up and down the aisle and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well.” He added that it’s also not a task that associates enjoy all that much.
These bots aren’t here to replace anyone either. Instead, the goal is to free up associates’ time so they can do things that people are better suited to — like providing assistance to customers and making sure the store looks like a place where shoppers want to spend their hard-earned cash.
For now, the robots have been dispatched to a limited number of Walmart stores in California, Pennsylvania, and the company’s home turf of Arkansas. If they live up to the hype, you may very well see one of these shelf scanning automatons in your local Walmart in the near future.
Here’s hoping they play well with Walmart’s robotic shopping carts.



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