walmart shelf scanning robot image from Reuters

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will roll out shelf-scanning robots in approximately 40 stores to replenish inventory faster on its shelves and save store employees time when products run out, according to a report by Reuters. The company has launched the program in an effort to better control out-of-stocks and the resulting loss of sales.

"If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn't do that job very well and they don't like it," Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King told Reuters.

The robots are about 2 feet in size and come with a tower on their backs that is fitted with cameras, which scan aisles to check stocks, missing items and if products have been left in the wrong place by customers. The robot’s benefits include a fifty per cent improvement in productivity and a scan time that is three times faster than its human counterpart. Store employees scan shelves at a rate of about twice a week.

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