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Robots to Invade Walmart

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Wal-Mart Stores is expanding a test of a robot that scans shelves to detect out-of-stocks.

In a blog post, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said an initial test of the units in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California encouraged the company the test the units at another 50 stores beginning early next year. “As with anything we roll out to our stores, the feedback from associates and customers will guide us in how and where we use this technology in the future.”

Walmart has been using technology as a means to address both customer service and costs, eyeing ways to use automation to tackle routine jobs – what the company called “tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual” – and allowing for store employees to focus on selling and better customer service.

The robotic shelf scanners cruise the aisles of Walmart stores utilizing vision technology and data to identify out-of-stocks, mispriced items and inaccurate shelf tags, processes typically done manually. The units can provide inventory information and aid personal shoppers as they fulfill online grocery orders, the company said.

“This new shelf-scanning technology frees up time for our associates to focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart – serving customers and selling merchandise,” the company said.

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