Walmart Is Putting Shelf-Scanning Robots in More Than 50 U.S. Stores

What do you think? Is this creepy or cool?

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Getty Images | Scott Olson

Is your local Walmart shelf empty where your favorite shampoo should be? In some Walmart locations, workers can now simply deploy a robot to figure out what’s missing and where it is. The robots make it easier to find the products you want, and save employees the hassle of doing boring inventory.

Walmart says in a video (which you can watch to see the robots in action below) that the use of shelf-scanning robots “simplifies routine work by using data and vision technology to find items that are out of stock, missed price changes and missing labels. It also helps locate items and checks inventory levels on the shelf, broadening the assortment available to online grocery pickup customers.”

walmart photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

The robots are about two feet tall and equipped with cameras. And they can check the Walmart store shelves three times quicker than humans, who dislike this chore. That’s according to Jeremy King, chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and e-commerce, in an interview with Reuters. The robots show the employees which areas to focus on as they re-stock and price check.

“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,” John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations, told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

He added: “From our perspective, when you’re doing things like this you’re trying to improve your service to your customers and trying to make things simpler and easier for your associates at the same time.”

This technology test is happening at 50 U.S. Walmart stores, including in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California, according to Reuters.

Walmart said it won’t reduce the number of workers at any of the stores. In fact, we bet Walmart employees may love their new co-workers because the robots do the monotonous tasks.

“When it comes to retail technology, we’re pushing the boundaries of what is possible through robotics and AI [artificial intelligence],” the company states in the YouTube video.

According to Fortune, Amazon also uses robots in its operations. Amazon’s robots move around product to make the packing process easier.

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