In the past two years, Walmart has embraced dozens of technologies to lower its costs, increase operational efficiency, and better compete with Amazon and other e-commerce competitors. One of the technologies Walmart is turning to is robotics.
Amazon is well-known for its use of robots uses in some of its warehouses, in addition to other cutting-edge technology. Walmart recently began embracing robots inside and outside its stores. The robots Walmart is testing include drones, self-driving vehicles, shelf-scanning robots and more.
Here are five robots Walmart is testing and using in hopes of keeping up with the competition.
Walmart is collaborating with Massachusetts-based startup Alert Innovation to launch a pilot program using automation to help store associates fill online grocery orders faster. One of the robots Walmart is creating is called Alphabot, an automated goods-to-person solution that operates in all three dimensions within a multilevel storage structure. The Walmart Alphabot retrieves items ordered online from storage and brings them to employees.
Walmart says Alphabot can pick up the “vast majority” of items, including dry and refrigerated goods and frozen items. Walmart’s personal shoppers still need to handpick produce and other fresh items.
“Our online grocery service is already a huge hit with customers, allowing them to quickly and conveniently order groceries online, select a pickup time and have those groceries delivered to their car in minutes. Alphabot will work behind the scenes to make the process even easier by automatically bringing items from storage to associates who will consolidate the items in the order. For our pickup associates, that means less time walking the store aisles in search of products,” Walmart says.
The Alphabot system will be integrated into a 20,000-square foot extension connected to the Walmart in Salem, N.H. The plan is to have this new technology center serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers. Walmart said in a statement that the Alphabot should be online and running by the end of 2018.