Robots roaming aisles, taking stock at Walmart

Mar 21, 2018, 9:37 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 3:59 pm

If you happen to drop by Walmart and see a robot going up and down the aisles, don’t panic.

It’s a new tool that Walmart is testing.

The Bossa Nova is a kind of mobile robot lurking in the aisle, but what exactly is it doing?

“It’s one of our latest innovations. It’s self-scanning technology,” says Walmart Director of Communications Tiffany Wilson. “What it does is it scans each aisle to look for items that are out of stock, can look for incorrect pricing. Anything that will indicate that an item is in a place that it shouldn’t be. And what it’s able to do is relay that information back to our associates, so associates get real time data about what parts of the store need the most attention.”

The Walmart in Milpitas, California is the location of this test phase of the new shelf scanning artificial intelligence. One customer came face to face with the Bossa Nova and decided to make a U-turn.

“Well, I thought it was going to hit me because it kept going my way and wasn’t really moving, so I don’t know,” said the confused shopper.

The maker of the Bossa Nova says the robot should not hit customers because it is constantly evaluating its environment with two- and three-dimensional sensors that allow it to make a decision on where to move next.

“But we’re continuing to test it,” says Wilson. “It’s been around for a few months so we hope to see it for a little while longer.”

Officials at Walmart say their employees will still have the physical task of stocking the shelves.

“So it’s more about arming our associates so that they’re tech enabled, but we’re always going to be a store that’s people led,” added Wilson.

Walmart says it’s testing the robots at 50 of its stores.

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Robots roaming aisles, taking stock at Walmart