Walmart is starting to introduce three different types of robot into its stores, including a 920-pound janitor bot that roams around mopping up spills.
When it comes to robots and artificial intelligence, some people are a lot more skeptical than others. That is entirely understandable. For starters, robots have largely been depicted as evil for decades by science-fiction shows, books, and movies. Lovable machines such as Wall-e are very much the exception rather than the rule. There's also the assumption that robots are taking jobs from human beings.
The latest company currently being accused of that is Walmart. That's due to recently revealed plans from the retail giant detailing its intention to use robots for some of the less desirable jobs in its stores. There will be three types in total being rolled out relatively soon, reports CNN. Floor scrubbers, shelf stackers, and box scanners.
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The 920-pound floor scrubbing robots, otherwise known as Auto-C, is expected to be roaming the aisles in more than 1800 stores by February 2020. Walmart is aiming to have the shelf scanning robots in 350 locations, and the delivery scanning bots in 1700 of its stores. While this sounds like bad news for the employees who currently perform those tasks, Walmart is arguing that it is quite the contrary.
The retail giant is of the belief that with robots taking care of these menial tasks, its employees will have more time to help out customers. Walmart also believes staff don't want to undertake the tasks that the robots will soon be in charge of. "It relieves associates of a job that, quite frankly, is unpopular," remarked Mark Ibbotson, head of Walmart's US central operations and real estate.
A supermarket in which massive robots are roaming the aisles does sound like something plucked right out of a science fiction movie. However, for Walmart at least, the future is now. That weird image will become the norm in many of its stores by this time next year. Don't worry about getting in the robot janitor's way though, it is programmed to avoid humans and objects and focus solely on muck and spills.