Bossa Nova Robotics Shelf-Scanning Robots
Bossa Nova is building robots Walmart is using to automate tasks like assessing in-stock and out-of-stock items and how well those items are selling. The robots already scan the shelves of 50 Walmart stores across Arkansas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas three times every day. The Walmart partnership is not exclusive, but it remains the most visible part of Bossa Nova’s retail presence.
The shelf-scanning robots Walmart is using combine RGB photos and point-cloud images and analyze the data to check the status of products. The data is aggregated and sent to management to review. Bossa Nova chief business officer Martin Hitch says data captured by the robots help improve how workers unload delivery trucks to get merchandise to the shelves faster.
The four-wheeled robots Walmart stores use move at 0.4 miles per hour and operate during business hours. Because they’re working while customers are shopping and employees are working, Bossa Nova’s robots use LiDAR and other safety sensors to recognize objects and avoid people.
Jeremy King, chief technology officer for all of Walmart’s US stores, said in October 2017 that the robots, at the time, were 50% more productive than their human counterparts and can scan shelves more accurately and three times faster. At that time, Walmart employees were only scanning shelves about twice a week.
“The global retail industry is at a critical inflection point,” says Bruce McWilliams, president and CEO at Bossa Nova. “Today’s retail powerhouses require accurate, real-time product information to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience expected by all customers.