Supermarket chain Walmart wants to start using more robots for a number of repetitive tasks such as cleaning and checking shelves, allowing the staff to spend more time on sales and helping customers.
Walmart has announced it will be deploying 300 extra 'shelf-scanners' in its store network. These little wagons drive around through the store completely autonomously. Meanwhile, they check supplies and prices on the shelves.
An additional 1,500 autonomous robots will be cleaning the stores and 1,200 conveyor belts will be installed to automatically sort products. There will also be 900 new Pickup Towers: automatic machines where customers can pick up their online deliveries.
The new tech has been tested extensively by the staff and the response from employees has been very positive. According to Walmart, it won't affect job opportunities either: employees will simply have more time for other tasks.
"Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual," said John Crecelius, senior vice president of Central Operations for Walmart U.S. "It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail."