Walmart expands robotic workforce

Walmart plans to add shelf-scanning robots to 650 more stores in the U.S. by the end of the summer, according to news reports.

The six-foot-tall Bossa Nova devices, equipped with 15 cameras each, roam aisles and send alerts to store employees’ handheld devices when items are out of stock, helping to solve a vexing problem that costs retailers nearly a trillion dollars annually, according to researcher IHL Group.

This robot expansion is the latest move in a series of automation experiments for the superstore. Walmart has introduced robots for cleaning floors, unloading and sorting items from trucks, and for picking up orders in stores. 

The new robots, designed by San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics Inc., is the latest addition to an increasingly automated workforce, which includes devices to scrub floors, unload trucks and picking up orders in stores. According to a Bloomberg report, the automatiom is part of CEO Doug McMillon’s push to reduce costs, improve store performance and gain credibility as a technology innovator as it battles Amazon.com Inc. Walmart says the shelf-scanners can reduce tasks that once took as long as two weeks into a twice-daily routine.

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