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Author Topic: Coming Soon: Robots taking inventory at Walmart  (Read 56 times)
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« on: November 15, 2017, 10:25:36 AM »

A co-worker informed me of this the other day.

A company called BossaNova Robotics is pilot testing a robot to take shelf audits and
inventory counts at Walmart.   Cool video included at their website.

A lot of the development work on these is being done here in Pittsburgh.
Some thoughts after watching the video:

- The Walmart store in the video appears to have been perfectly prepped and straightened.
Literally not a box or a jar out of place on any shelf.  This is NOT the situation the robot is
likely to encounter in any Walmart that is actually open and operating.  How accurate will
these counts be in a typically trashed store?

- I can barely navigate the aisles in many stores due to a combination of pop-up displays
scattered about, small children running unattended, and plus-sized people oblivious to the
bottleneck they create as they spend ten minutes considering which ketchup to purchase.
How will the robot deal with these realities?

- Slip-and-Fall lawyers live off the retail industry.  Every time an old lady slips on a wet floor
or an old man drops a can on his foot they cash in.  I am guessing the first time one of these
robots runs into an old lady in an aisle it's going to be the Trial of the Century.

- Maintenance and upkeep on a robot is not cost-free, and the website says that a trained
technician is onsite in the store at all times when it is operating.  When you add up the cost
of maintaining the robot, plus what I have to assume is a fairly decent wage being paid to
the technician, is it really cheaper than a clerk making $9-12/hour?

- Won't these robots be subject to sabotage by employees fearful of losing their jobs and/or
vandalized by the sorts of thugs who hang-out at certain Walmart locations?
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