In brief: Grocery stores throughout the US are starting to cut down on the need for human employees by implementing sophisticated auto-checkout systems, smart shopping carts, and now, actual robots into their stores. New reports claim that Walmart will soon use robots to automate some of the most time-consuming tasks that its employees perform.
While the retail giant isn't fully replacing its checkout lines as Amazon has done just yet, it will use robots to "clean floors, sort inventory," and rotate stock throughout its stores.
These tasks, though simple, do represent a fairly large portion of a given Walmart worker's day-to-day life. With potentially thousands of customers coming in and out of a single store every day, tasks like cleaning, inventory sorting, and stock replenishment are pretty close to full-time jobs by themselves.
At any rate, to start with, Walmart will be bringing these new robots to 1,500 locations throughout the US. Given that the retail chain is estimated to have about 4,700 stores in operation as of writing, that means about 31 percent of them will have robot helpers working alongside humans.
Naturally, reports like this always spark concerns about potential job losses. However, Walmart probably isn't planning any mass lay-offs anytime soon; the company will likely need time to test this technology and ensure it's worth the expense before it makes any widespread personnel changes.