Walmart, Brain to Expand Self-Driving Floor-Cleaning Robots in Stores
The company’s BrainOS platform currently automates more than 100 of Walmart’s fleet of commercial floor scrubbers across the U.S. The companies said Walmart expects to have 360 BrainOS-powered floor-cleaning robots in its stores by the end of Jan. 31, 2019.
The BrainOS provides the floor-cleaning robots with autonomous navigation and data collection capabilities, tied into a cloud-based reporting system. The scrubbers lets store associates quickly map a route during an initial training ride, and then activate autonomous floor cleaning at the press of a button. With multiple sensors to scan surroundings for people and obstacles, Brain said this system provides “the industry’s highest level of safety and performance.”
“We’re excited to work with Brain Corp in supporting our retail operations and providing our associates with a safe and reliable technology,” said John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations. “BrainOS is a powerful tool in helping our associates complete repetitive tasks so they can focus on other tasks within role and spend more time serving customers.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Walmart to enhance customer experience at its retail locations,” said Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp. “BrainOS technology allows robots to effectively and safely function in complex, crowded environments, ensuring increased productivity and efficiency across applications. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Walmart to help build intelligent, connected stores.”
Floor-cleaning robots part of growing ecosystem
Walmart is no stranger to adopting robotics and technology in the course of their operations. The company is working with Bossa Nova Robotics to provide inventory scanning robots in several of its stores, is using Alert Innovation’s Alphabot to pick grocery orders in a New Hampshire store, and has purchased virtual reality headsets to train associates.
Walmart is also testing grocery delivery with self-driving Ford vehicles and is creating an automated high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries. It’s even working on smaller drones, filing a patent for a “pollination drone” that could help pollinate crops the same way a bee would.
A discussion of the growth of robotics in retail is part of the RoboBusiness at CES event, to be held on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Las Vegas. Panelists on the session titled “Can Robots and Automation Revitalize Retail?” include Erin Rapacki, CEO of Machine InBound; Steve Carlin, chief strategy officer at SoftBank Robotics; Martin Hitch, chief business officer at Bossa Nova Robotics; and Carl Vause, CEO of Soft Robotics.