Welcome Shelf Scanning Robots

Walmart has introduced shelf scanning robots into 50+ Wal-Mart stores across the country. They are gray, rolling boxes that are two feet tall. The devices will be able to report unsold items, missing items, and misplaced items. The robot will also be able to report if an item is not priced correctly. This information will then be sent to an employee who is responsible for re-stocking the items. But it’s not like Wal-Mart will be firing tons of employees. These devices are used to supplement the headcounting done by the human employees. What’s great about these robots is that they can work at all times, while the human employees only work a portion of the day. The implementation of these robots was due to keeping up with the retail giant, Amazon. They also have their own robots. What’s different about Amazon and Wal-Mart is that Amazon uses the robots to speed up the logistics and shipping process. Wal-Mart will use these robots to obtain accurate information and pass the information on directly to a worker.

Picture link: https://www.google.com/search?q=walmart+robots&tbm=isch&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjvpaydtJHXAhVE54MKHWYmA6sQ_AUIDCgD&biw=1278&bih=583&dpr=2#imgrc=VDamjGlGAyGZ3M:

Article link: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/27/walmart-is-rolling-out-shelf-scanning-robots-in-stores-but-says-they-wont-replace-people/

7 thoughts on “Welcome Shelf Scanning Robots

  1. I think this robot invention is a great invention and will be very beneficial in the workplace. I had a job where I had to do inventory and it is difficult to do by hand. In Walmart, it must take employees hours to do. Not only would the robot make it faster, but they would also make the information way more accurate. It is so easy to make mistakes while counting inventory. The robot will ensure that everything is always correct, which will save stores from making multiple mistakes. I think that a lot of big stores should have robots taking inventory. Having robots installed in stores is a huge advancement in technology and would completely change the way the stores are run. Employees can spend more time doing different tasks rather than wasting their work time doing inventory. I hope that in the future, more companies will look into these robots.

  2. This sounds like a great innovation to me since it will greatly increase efficiency and accuracy. There are worrying about potential job loss but I think this will most likely not happen. The robots are designed to do works that are repetitive and predictable. By having a computerized machine performing these routine work, employees will actually benefit from it. Robots will make less human errors in these basic works and people can perform some other tasks that they really need to focus on. I have seen so many misplaced products on Walmart’s shelf and have not been discovered by the staff. There are even products on the shelves that have already past the expiration date. I believe with the robots, more of these products will be noticed quickly and improve customer’s shopping experience as well as the store’s management. My only concern is that with Walmart purchasing these robots at a pretty high cost, how will affect their employee’s salary and working hours. Probably the worry is probably temporary since the cost is not continuous and one purchase might be sufficient for few years. Here is a video posted by Walmart that explain how these robots work. I find them pretty cool and look forward seeing them in the stores and other places.

  3. As someone who has worked in retail for 4 years, I see how this could be an amazing innovation. There is nothing worse than doing inventory by hand, especially a store as huge as Walmart. This would make inventory a lot easier, faster, and more accurate. When doing inventory by hand it is very easy to miss a sku or lose count and need to start over. The robots eliminate these factors of human error and can probably move a lot more quickly than a human. The only flaw I see is that barcodes are usually on the bottom of boxes of food, and they are usually stacked in a row making it difficult to scan items without physically picking them up and revealing the bar code. Does this robot work without bar codes, or does it pick up the boxes to scan them?

  4. I think this is a great idea for inventory. I’ve had experience working at a supermarket stocking shelves and finding misplaced things. This machine would actually increase productivity rather than take jobs away. As the OP stated, the machine can scan a portion of the store while the worker is working on another portion. This increases productivity because the machine can do the job of seeing if a certain product needs to be filled rather than having the worker find out that a product doesn’t need to be filled so time was wasted by taking out the product that doesn’t need filling.
    Overall, these machines would increase productivity and save stores a lot of money from misplaced or damaged products.

  5. These robots that Walmart is implementing is a very efficient way to keep track of their products. Not only do they require less monotonous labor for people, they can also keep the quality of products good with their ability to check if a product has been sold and if the prices are correct. Although they say that it will not replace human jobs, it could cause some controversy if they get to a point of being more advanced. There are already automated checkout stations at stores and restaurants, so it could be possible to make more robots to do other human actions. On the other hand, it could open up new jobs working in the AI and computer programming field to create these robots and make them perfect. If these robots prove to be efficient enough, there could be a market for them to be sold in many other stores, such as Target or Walgreens.

  6. As someone who stocks meat products in a grocery store, I think this is a great idea. Robots like these will not result in a lot of job losses, because they do not physically stock the shelves, which is what the majority of a worker’s time is spent on. As the initial post said, What they do is let a worker know what products are missing or misplaced. Just yesterday, I spent about 20 minutes bringing products out of our cooler and taking them to our lunch meats case, only to find out that most of the products were still fully stocked. If I had a robot present me with a list of which products were needed, that probably would have taken only 5 minutes, leaving me 15 minutes to do other things. I can also spend a fair amount of time looking for where misplaced items that aren’t from my department belong. It would make things much easier if a robot could find these and alert someone from the appropriate department of their location. These robots may also help to reduce waste and save money. I sometimes find frozen products left in inappropriate places, where they thaw and have to be thrown away. A store employee may be able to get to these more quickly if they know that there is a misplaced product somewhere. In larger departments, and especially a large store such as Wal-Mart, it is very difficult for employees to accurately keep track of what is and is not stocked; having robots such as these will save a lot of time and money, make employees’ jobs easier, and improve the customers’ experience.

  7. I like this product I do think it is very convenient for the store owners, however, this is another example of technology taking jobs away from people. Technology is made to make things easier for people and in society. For example, soon highways will only use E-Z pass detectors when you have to go to a different state. Again it is a much easier and faster way to do things, but it is taking jobs away from people who really need them. It is possible that we do not need technology for every aspect of our lives. Some things we are fully capable of doing just fine such as stocking shelves. Some of the world’s biggest companies are investing billions to build robots intended to replace human workers. Another example is self-driving cars. Car and tech companies are in a race to get their first. Once cars and trucks can drive themselves, there’s less need for humans to sit behind the wheel of a cab, Uber or tractor trailer.
    Vivek Wadhwa, the author of “The Driver in the Driverless Car,” estimates that close to 5 million driving jobs will be lost in the early 2020s, as vehicles achieve full autonomy.
    The optimistic case for drivers is that jobs often involve other tasks, such as unloading merchandise. Robots currently don’t carry packages or Chinese food orders to your front door. However, as automated drones drop packages on doorsteps and in backyards, some of those jobs may be replaced, too.
    The autonomous vehicle industry will likely create new jobs, such as managers who oversee the fleets of vehicles. It is cheaper in the long run because you essentially do not have to pay robots for their services as you would have to do for humans. I do think we should do this and hurt people employment status.


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