Walmart will not continue using robots for certain tasks, a new report claims, instead opting to stick with human workers. The robots were tasked with tracking inventory on store shelves, an effort in automation that partially removed the human element. The company had around 500 robots in use, but has reportedly found a better human-powered way to keep its shelves stocked.
Walmart has been vocal about its automation efforts, some of which we see in its stores across the US. There is, for example, the large tower found in most stores that customers can use to scan an emailed code, which then automatically opens a locker that contains their online order.
Found in fewer stores were shelf-scanning robots, which moved slowly down aisles to take inventory of items, including which were running low. However, this year has seen a high demand for products and many customers have run into cases where shelves were emptied before associates could get them restocked.
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Walmart has found a more effective way to keep these shelves stocked and it doesn’t involve robots. Sources claim that Walmart has ended a contract it had with robotics company Bossa Nova Robotics, the source of the shelf-scanning robots.
Human workers will take over the task in places where robots were deployed, according to the report, but that doesn’t mean Walmart is done exploring the use of technology to improve its store. The company, for example, has an AI-powered ‘smart’ store open to the public in New York.