Walmart is expanding its deployment of technology to make shopping and store management easier.
This week the retailer announced plans to expand its rollout of in-store Pickup Towers where customers can pick up goods they ordered online to cleaning robots, reports TechCrunch. Across the U.S., Walmart says it will deploy 1500 new “Auto-C” floor cleaning robots, 300 more “Auto-S” shelf scanners, 1200 more FAST Unloaders and 900 more Pickup Towers.
The plans represent a significant acceleration of Walmart’s technology rollout program. The company originally introduced the Auto-C last fall and said it planned to introduce a total of 360 by the end of January. Now it envisions a total of 1860 by the end of the year. The planned total of Auto-S units is now 350, up from 50. Walmart had 30 FAST truck unloaders deployed last summer and was planning to introduce 10 more per week, but the 1200 now scheduled will bring the total to 1700.
Walmart says that increased online order picking will help offset any job losses that might otherwise result from the increase in automation. It says it has added 40,000 online grocery picking positions over the last year and a half. The company also says that many of the jobs it is automating – truck unloading in particular – were difficult to keep staffed.