Walmart has teamed with Brain Corp to bring autonomous floor scrubbers to its stores, the companies have announced. Brain Corp’s technology already automates more than 100 floor scrubbers utilized by Walmart, which will expand to have 360 of the machines by the end of January 2019. The floor scrubbers are powered by BrainOS.
Brain Corp’s BrainOS is a platform that equips its floor scrubbers with autonomous navigation, as well as the ability to collect data. The machines link to a cloud reporting system and are trained upon deployment with a route of each store. Once a store associate maps a route for the scrubber, it is able to autonomously go to work.
Store associates activate the floor scrubbers by pressing a button. A variety of sensors enable the machines to perceive the world around them; they avoid both obstacles and people, and are said to feature the highest safety and performance levels in their industry.
According to Brain Corp, its BrainOS operating system is able to work with off-the-shelf hardware to keep the robot costs down. A combination of artificial intelligence libraries and computer vision are behind the system, enabling the robotic platforms to adapt and learn for various environments.
The company designed its platform to handle “cluttered and dynamic indoor environments,” such as the kind that are found at Walmart retail stores. The use of these machines will free up store associates for other tasks, such as stocking shelves, though the presence of yet another machine replacing a human job will no doubt make critics uneasy.