The company plans to add 1,500 autonomous floor cleaners, called "Auto-C", as well as 300 shelf scanners, which scans items on store shelves to make sure they are shelved and priced accurately.
The robots are coming for Walmart workers' jobs, with the retail giant saying it plans to add nearly 4,000 robots to its stores and facilities as it seeks to remove human workers from routine tasks like scrubbing floors.
Walmart is planning an aggressive expansion of robotic technology this year, including more than 1,200 unloaders that'll automatically scan and sort items from trucks.
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The move also comes amid pressure for the world's largest employer to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour from $11 an hour after an increase in January as a result of sweeping new tax legislation. Robots, while requiring an initial investment, promise lower labor costs because they don't require benefits, while they can often perform the same job in much less time than a human worker. Some of these machines could soon be seen moving through stores, checking inventory and cleaning the floor. The company has been testing the robots for a few months now.
Walmart says the addition of the robots will allow associates to serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor.
"Hoosier customers have taken quickly to Online Grocery Pickup and to our Walmart Pickup Towers as these developments have begun to roll out across the state", Rodney Walker, regional vice president of operations, said in a news release.
Freeing up employees to help customers seems like a good idea. Hopefully, robot and human can work in harmony while you buy tube socks.