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Walmart is dropping shelf-scanning robots, report says

A surge of online orders apparently has more human workers cruising the aisles.


Walmart is reportedly giving up on its years-long effort to have robots scan store shelves to keep track of things like item availability and price accuracy. The retail giant ended its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics, which provided the large aisle-roving robots, after getting similar results from human workers walking stores to fill online orders, according to a report Monday from The Wall Street Journal. The robots were reportedly in about 500 Walmart stores.

Walmart has seen its e-commerce business grow enormously during the coronavirus pandemic, as many people avoid venturing into stores. In September, the company launched Walmart Plus, a delivery subscription service for groceries and other products that positioned the retailer to more directly compete with Amazon Prime. With more workers walking aisles to fill online orders, Walmart is reportedly turning to these employees to monitor product amounts and locations.

Walmart didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but told the Journal it has learned a lot about how technology can assist employees and customers. 

"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," a Walmart spokeswoman told the Journal.