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Walmart to end experiment with robots in US stores

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Nov 04, 2020 - 03:54 AM

NEW YORK — Walmart has pulled the plug on a program to use robots to scan items in stores and help maintain inventory, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The retail giant had worked with Bossa Nova Robotics for five years employing elongated robots that take readings on inventory and utilize artificial intelligence to predict product movement and inventory needs.

Walmart had announced earlier this year plans to employ the robots in around 1,000 of its 4,700 US stores.

But the company reversed course after bringing the machines into around 500 stores, Walmart said.

“We’ve 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,” the Walmart spokeswoman said.

“We will continue testing new technologies and investing in our own processes and apps to best understand and track our inventory and help move products to our shelves as quickly as we can.”

Walmart garnered higher sales from an expanded consumer base amid the upheaval of the coronavirus that has seen consumers flock to “essential” stores like Walmart and spend more on e-commerce.

Walmart, which has invested heavily on e-commerce ventures in recent years in a race with Amazon, in September launched a membership program that will charge $98 annually or $12.95 a month that will provide free delivery as soon as the same day as well as “scan and go” feature that lets consumers pay for items with a smart phone application.

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