You may have seen stores deploy shelf-scanning robots before, but they’re about to get one of their largest real-world tests to date. Walmart is expanding a shelf-scanning robot trial run to 50 additional stores, including some in its home state of Arkansas.
Machines from Bossa Nova Robotics will roam the aisles to check for stock levels, pricing and misplaced items, saving human staffers the hassle of checking everything themselves. There will be technicians on-site just in case, but the bots are fully autonomous. Thanks in part to 3D imaging, they can dodge around obstacles and make notes to return later if their path is completely blocked.
Walmart stresses that the robots are there to supplement humans, not replace them — to eliminate drudgery and the expenses that go with it. This helps workers get to the task of filling empty shelves.