Walmart is Firing Its Shelf-Scanning Robots and Replacing Them With Humans

Walmart Inc. via Twitter

The basic story behind many movies that take place in the future is the rise of robots and robots replacing humans. While technology and the use of robots can certainly be a wonderful thing, it also has drawbacks.

For one thing, if robots replace humans in stores and businesses, that means that more and more people will be out of a job. That is most definitely a huge drawback.

Many stores have been incorporating technology in their stores. If you’ve ever used self check-out, you know that technology can replace some jobs, but it’s also not perfect. Way too often, we need the help of someone when we’re at self check-out.

Walmart has been using technology in other ways besides self check-out. They have had actual robots roaming the aisles of their stores for quite awhile. These robots, which are manufactured by Bossa Nova Robotics, use cameras to determine whether or not items are out of stock.

Obviously, a robot that can tell if the shelves need to be stocked might be concerning. In theory, the store could replace someone’s job with a robot. 

Walmart shoppers haven’t been thrilled about seeing the robots in the store, but earlier this year, the the big box store announced that they would be adding even more of these machines to their stores.

Recently, Walmart backpedaled announcing that they will no longer be using the shelf-scanning robots made by Bossa Nova Robotics. The store is laying off all 500 robots that are currently in their stores. In a statement, Walmart said they have “learned a lot about how technology can assist associates, make jobs easier and provide a better customer experience.”

At first, it sounds like a great move for Walmart to lay off robots in favor of humans, but this announcement from Walmart has caused Bossa Nova Robotics to lay off half of its employees. Bossa Nova Robotics would not comment about the Walmart announcement, but co-founder Sarjoun Skaff said, “the pandemic has forced us to streamline our operations and focus on our core technologies.”

While Walmart will not be using robots to scan store shelves, they do still plan to use robots in other ways including cleaning robots and robots that can assist with fulfilling online grocery orders.

Have you seen shelf-scanning robots in your local Walmart? Do you think Walmart made the right decision by laying off these robots?