Walmart’s Robot Revolution Takes Detour as Partnership Ends
(Bloomberg) -- After spending years testing robots in its stores to track inventory, Walmart Inc. has ended a partnership with a major supplier, Bossa Nova Robotics Inc.
“This was one idea we tried in roughly 500 stores, just as we are trying other ideas in additional stores,” a Walmart spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We will continue testing new technologies and investing in our own processes and apps to best understand and track our inventory and help move products to our shelves as quickly as we can.”
For years, retailers have been hailing the arrival of robots to take on a slew of mundane tasks, including keeping track of what’s on their shelves and cleaning floors. There have been lots of tests, but widespread adoption has been slow. Walmart’s work with Bossa Nova’s robots, which use 15 cameras to track in-store inventory, was one of the biggest roll-outs.
As recently as January, the chain planned to add 650 more units, bringing its fleet to more than 1,000. The spokeswoman didn’t say why it scrapped the plan. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the relationship had ended.
Bossa Nova didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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