In recent years, retail robots that scan shelves and update inventory have been synonymous with retail automation.
However, Walmart, one of the retail giants and biggest adopters of the technology, has decided to terminate its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics.
Bossa Nova’s robots appeared in around 500 of Walmart’s retail stores.
Walmart started using the robots in 2017 but initially only deployed them in 50 locations.
According to the company, their role was to take on routine tasks.
They would use their machine vision to scan shelves and determine which products needed to be restocked.
Despite Walmart announcing that it would be expanding the robots across 1,000 stores earlier this year, a different scenario seems to be unfolding right now.
The exact reason behind the ending of the partnership remains unclear, but it does appear that the global pandemic has had a bearing on the decision.
As online shopping is increasing in prevalence, Walmart noticed more and more of its human workers traversing the aisles and collecting online orders.
While completing these tasks, what is stopping them from performing inventory checks at the same time?
It appears that the robots are not an effective use of resources at this time.
In addition, John Furner, US chief executive at Walmart, is having second thoughts about robots appearing in its stores and the resulting customer concerns.
Walmart will continue testing new technologies regardless.
The end of this partnership has had a significant effect on Bossa Nova – the firm was forced to lay off half of its staff.
Sarjoun Skaff, co-founder of Bossa Nova, said that the firm’s technology has excelled in more than 500 of the world’s most challenging stores.
Having achieved stunning advances in AI and robotics, Bossa Nova will continue to deploy its technology with its partners going forward.