Walmart, the retail giant is reportedly ending a contract of shelf-scanning robots in close to 500 of its locations. Retail shelf-scanning robots are involved in scanning shelves and updating inventory. As per recent developments, Walmart feels that humans can do these tasks in a better way.
Shelf-scanning robots first used by Walmart in 2017
It first started using robots in 2017. The robots were supplied by Bossa Nova Robotics, with initial deployment at 50 locations. These robots would do routine work in stores efficiently. They used machine vision to scan shelves and identify which products needed restocking. Bossa Nova had planned to supply to 1000 additional Walmart stores earlier this year.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, more workers available in Walmart aisles to collect online orders
As more people have shifted to shopping online in the global pandemic, Walmart observed more workers available in the aisles to collect online orders. Hence, it felt that the workers could perform the inventory checks similar to the robots. John Furner, Walmart’s US chief executive, was also concerned about customers seeing robots in the company’s stores.
A Walmart spokesperson said that as technologies continue to assist associates, making jobs easier to execute, they will continue to test new technologies and invest in processes and apps.
Bossa Nova, Walmart’s robots supplier, affected by the end of the contract
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As per reports, Bossa Nova will be affected by the end of the contract, since it laid off 50 percent of its staff. The company has not yet denied or confirmed the Walmart news. Although, it has admitted that it will be forced to streamline operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bossa Nova co-founder Sarjoun Skaff stated that they made great advances in AI and robotics. Their retail AI is the industry’s best and works well with robots as with fixed cameras. He further added that their hardware, autonomy, and operations have excelled in more than 500 of the world’s challenging stores. They would continue to deploy the technology with their partners in retail and other fields.