The march of the robots continues.
The retail robots, that is. As automation continues to make inroads in replacing human workers outright in many retail settings, Walmart has decided to expand its use of robots in stores.
According to Business Insider, Walmart has been using robots at a small number of stores in Arkansas and California. Apparently, things have been going especially well in those locations, because the company has decided to expand use of the machines. Reportedly, Walmart will deploy robots in 50 stores by the end of January.
The robots are actually very talented. Their job, right now, is to patrol store aisles to look for items that are out-of-stock, not priced correctly, missing labels, and even put back in the wrong spot by customers. From there, the robots notify human employees of the corrections that need to be made.
Jeremy King, Walmart CTO, says that the robots are 50 percent more efficient than their human counterparts when it comes to performing the same tasks. The process of scanning shelves? The robots do it three times faster than people, and their accuracy is much higher.
Walmart has gone on the record elsewhere to say that replacement of human workers by the robots isn’t in the cards…but is that really true? At what point will the reality of “faster” and “more efficient” become impossible to ignore, leading to the installation of robots at Walmart to perform many more tasks currently done by humans?
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large