As it grows its collection of robots, Walmart will bring shelf-scanning robots to 650 additional stores in the United States by the conclusion of summer. The Bossa Nova devices, which are six feet tall, move through aisles, and send alerts to the handheld devices of employees when products are out of stock, Bloomberg reported.
Shoppers reportedly gawked at the time that the retailer put the first robot in a rural Pennsylvania store in 2016. Some attempted to talk with the bots, while others believed they were anti-theft devices. They are now a more common sight inside some locations, as competitor robots conduct tasks in the aisles of rival grocery trailers like Stop & Shop, Schnucks and Giant Eagle.
The new robots become a part of the increasingly automated workforce of Walmart that also encompasses devices to unload trucks, collect online grocery orders and scrub floors. They are said to be part of Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon’s effort to bolster store performance, gain credibility and cut costs as it takes on Amazon.
The shelf-scanners are said to speed up tasks that took as long as two weeks once and make them into a twice-daily routine. John Crecelius, Walmart’s senior president of store innovations, said per reports, “It speeds up the entire cycle.”
In separate news, reports recently surfaced that Walmart was aiming to solidify its position as America’s largest grocer with a grocery-picking robot called Alphabot that is said to quickly pick, pack and deliver orders. Automated grocery systems such as the Alphabot can reportedly pick and pack orders an estimated 10 times faster than a human, which could grow order capacity as demand grows for online grocery offerings.
Alphabot was created just for Walmart by Alert Innovation and utilizes autonomous carts to pick orders for groceries purchased through the web. An associate with the retailer then checks, bags, and delivers the final orders.