Walmart abandons shelf-scanning robots, lets humans do work
Walmart is laying off the robots it had deployed in about 500 stores to keep tabs on what's on and not on the shelves. The retailer said Monday it has ended its relationship with startup Bossa Nova Robotics, which builds roving robots equipped with cameras for identifying out-of-stock and misplaced products.
Walmart US Chief Executive John Furner worried about shopper's reaction to robots, which led to the creation of a simple and cost-effective way to manage the products on its shelves with the help of human workers.
The stock-scanning robots were developed by Bossa Nova Robotics, which laid off about half its staff after the end of the Walmart partnership, the report said. Walmart has reportedly seen significant growth during the second quarter because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and was struggling to stock shelves to keep up with demand.
Much of the challenge for the retailer became quickly restocking shelves and making sure it had the right inventory, the report noted.
However, as more consumers opted to make online purchases to their homes, the company's executives walked through the store aisles to retrieve items. Walmart found them to be better equipped to restock shelves at the right time.
Walmart said in a statement it has “worked with Bossa Nova for five years and together we learned a lot about how technology can assist associates, make jobs easier and provide a better customer experience."