Walmart is supersizing its robotic fleet, with plans to roll out more autonomous floor cleaners, shelf scanners, FAST Unloaders and pickup towers to its stores.
The rapid autonomization is part of an effort to free up store associates to better serve customers, said John Crecelius, SVP of central operations for Walmart U.S. He said employees immediately understood the opportunities that arose from being freed up from focusing on tasks that are "repeatable, predictable and manual."
“It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail,” he said.
1,500 Auto-C Autonomous Floor Cleaners
Walmart will roll out 1,500 new autonomous Auto-C floor cleaners. The retailer revealed a 360-unit pilot of the technology in December that has proven successful, according to company officials. The machines can be programmed to navigate open areas of the store as they clean and polish floors.
1,200 FAST Unloaders
The retailer is majorly expanding its FAST Unloaders, which are able to work in tandem with Walmart's shelf scanners, to 1,200 additional units. The system scans and sorts items that are unloaded from delivery trucks, streamlining the process of getting new inventory onto the store floor.
900 Pickup Towers
Walmart’s bright orange pickup towers have been receiving positive feedback over their two years or so in existence, prompting the retailer to install 900 more across its store footprint. The units act as “giant vending machines,” according to company officials, that allow customers to quickly and easily pick up their purchase.