A robot will soon be able to handle your groceries for you. Walmart announced Friday that it will soon incorporate automated robotic carts, called Alphabots, in one of its superstores in Salem, New Hampshire. Alphabots can pick and pack shoppers' online orders and complete otherwise mundane tasks in the hopes of streamlining Walmart's online grocery service. 'Alphabot will work behind the scenes to make the process even easier by automatically bringing items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order,' Mark Ibbotson, Walmart's executive vice president of central operations, said in a statement. 'For our pickup associates, that means less time walking the store aisles in search of products and more time ensuring customers are getting the absolute best in fresh produce, meats, etc.' The retail giant installed a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store that will house Alphabot.
Walmart is testing out a new system that will help put together grocery orders placed by customers online. The service lets users order groceries, choose a pickup time and have their order delivered to their car, and the new automated system, called Alphabot, will take over some of the legwork that goes into collecting order items. It will automatically gather certain items from a location's storage area and transport them to employees who will then package the order. The first Alphabot system will be tested at a supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire and Walmart expects it to be up and running by the end of the year. The company is currently adding a 20,000-square-foot extension to the store, which will house Alphabot and include drive-thru lanes for grocery pickup.
You may have seen stores deploy shelf-scanning robots before, but they're about to get one of their largest real-world tests to date. Walmart is expanding a shelf-scanning robot trial run to 50 additional stores, including some in its home state of Arkansas. There will be technicians on-site just in case, but the bots are fully autonomous. Thanks in part to 3D imaging, they can dodge around obstacles and make notes to return later if their path is completely blocked. Walmart stresses that the robots are there to supplement humans, not replace them -- to eliminate drudgery and the expenses that go with it.
Wal-Mart is rolling out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 U.S. stores to replenish inventory faster and save employees time when products run out. The robots pass that data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix errors. The approximately 2-foot (0.61-meter) robots come with a tower that is fitted with cameras that scan aisles to check stock and identify missing and misplaced items, incorrect prices and mislabeling Out-of-stock items are a big problem for retailers since they miss out on sales every time a shopper cannot find a product on store shelves. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer has been testing shelf-scanning robots in a handful of stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and California. 'If you are running up and down the aisle and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn't do that job very well, and they don't like it,' Jeremy King, chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and e-commerce, told Reuters.