Last year, Walmart had in-store robots installed at nearly 1,500 locations. Despite creeping out customers and making human counterparts feel uneasy, Walmart is rolling out robot workers in 650 new stores.
According to Bloomberg, the new robots are shelf-scanners that alert human employees when items are out of stock. According to the IHL Group, out-of-stock items cost retailers about $1 trillion each year.
Designed by Boss Nova Robotics, a company based out of San Francisco, the robots are outfitted with 15 cameras and roam the aisles looking for empty shelves.
With the addition, Walmart now has 1,000 shelf-scanning robots in service. However, the company also has robots scrubbing floors, unloading trucks and fulfilling online orders.
According to Bossa Nova, the robots allow retailers to redesign store operations from product flow to replenishment. The robots scan the shelves and use artificial intelligence to recognize everything on the shelf, from prices and labels to products.
What's interesting is that they not only know when something is out-of-stock but also misplaced. The robots can also make sure that the tag on the shelf matches the price in the system.
According to Walmart, embracing automation is vital if the retailer plans to keep up with Amazon.
Walmart now operates 4,750 stores in the U.S., and robot workers will eventually enter service in each location in various roles.