It’s not a joke; robots are coming to a Walmart Inc. near you. The world’s largest retailer is rolling out 360 autonomous robots to scrub floors in some of its stores in the U.S. by the end of the January 2019. The announcement was made in a joint statement with Brain Corp., which will be producing the machines.
The autonomous janitors will clean floors on their own even when customers are around, according to the San Diego-based startup. Walmart has already been experimenting with automating the scanning of shelves for out-of-stock items and hauling products from storage for online orders.
Advances in computer vision is also making it possible to use retail floor data to better understand consumer behavior, improve inventory tracking and eventually even do away with checkout counters.
Such technology can already be seen with the cashier-less stores started by Amazon.com Inc.
“We can take anything that has wheels and turn it into a fully autonomous robot, provided that it can go slow and stopping is never a safety concern,” Brain Chief Executive Office Eugene Izhikevich, said. “And it’s more than just navigation. It is to robots what Android operating system is to smartphones.”
The robots already scrub floors at airports in Seattle, San Diego, Boston and Miami, according to Izhikevich.
By: Maytinee Kramer