US retail giant Walmart is set to roll out shelf-scanning robots in a number of its stores, as it seeks to tap into the benefits of automation with robots that can take care of “repeatable, predictable and manual” tasks.
Advising of the initiative via a blog post, Walmart says the robots’ duties will include “scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels”.
The company has said that workers would not be replaced by the robots and the robots will not affect the overall employee headcount in stores, reports Reuters.
Reuters reports Jeremy King, chief technology officer for Walmart US and e-commerce, as saying the robots are 50% more productive than their human counterparts, capable of scanning shelves significantly more accurately and three times faster.
“This new shelf-scanning technology frees up time for our associates to focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart — serving customers and selling merchandise,” the company said in its blog post.
A video featured in the post demonstrates the robot, which sports a box-like base and a narrower, shelf-height head, in action, gliding through supermarket aisles, shining a light on shelves as it scans.
Walmart says it has already tested the technology in a small number of its stores and plans to expand it to an additional 50 locations.