Aisle-roaming Robots Coming to a Walmart Near You


That’s right, shoppers, your least favorite megacorporation–so famous for treating human beings poorly that their wrongdoings have their own lengthy Wikipedia page–is introducing a fleet of faceless robot workers to stores nationwide.

The robots, which look like what would happen if a Super Nintendo and one of those outdoor cigarette disposal bins had sex with each other, are meant to roam the aisles of your local Walmart, scanning aisles for items that are either out of stock or have been wantonly misplaced by dejected, depressive customers who couldn’t care less.  The robots are, unsurprisingly, more efficient than the dejected, depressive human employees who also largely could not care less.

“If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well and they don’t like it,” Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King told Reuters.

The robots are about 2 feet in size and come with a tower on their backs that is fitted with cameras, which scan aisles to check stocks, missing items and if products have been left in the wrong place by customers.

They are 50 percent more productive, can scan shelves three times faster than their human counterparts and significantly improve accuracy levels, King said. Store employees are only able to scan shelves about twice a week. (Read more at Business Insider)

I’m not sure if the addition of 1990s cubicle-chic Daleks to Walmarts provokes a creeping sense of unease in your gut, or stirs pity within your heart for a poor, hypothetical Walmart employee.  On top of the aforementioned poor treatment, they now have to deal with the specter of obsolescence by robot–which, by the way, sounds pretty serious according to this paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research–and it’s something many of us may have to confront soon enough.