Walmart has been testing autonomous floor-cleaning robots in five of its stores, LinkedIn reports. The floor scrubber, developed by Brain Corp., is equipped with cameras, sensors and LiDAR to help it maneuver down aisles and around obstacles. And it can largely navigate itself after first being driven by a person in order to learn its path.
Phil Duffy, VP of innovation and marketing for Brain Corp., told Fox Business that the company's technology is in approximately 50 malls and retailers nationwide. "We are also in airports, educational campuses, corporate campuses and industrial sites. In addition, we will be launching in Japan, through our partner, SoftBank Robotics, by summer 2018," he said.
Of course, this type of technology leads some to wonder how many jobs will be on the line if it's adopted more widely. Walmart is also testing shelf-scanning robots that can look for misplaced items, check prices and note inventory levels. However, the company insists that both are meant to complement its workforce, not replace it, and their use would allow Walmart staff to focus on other aspects of their jobs. A Walmart spokesperson told Fox, "The maintenance team is actually quite excited to work with new technology like this." But that doesn't seem to apply to everyone. As one Walmart employee told LinkedIn, "Nobody in my store likes it."