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Walmart terminates inventory robots from aisles

Walmart had plans for these robots to help inventory management in more than 1,000 stores this year, but it ended its partnership this fall when it found better alternatives.

Walmart Inc. BB #:143789 has cancelled its plan to use shelf-scanning robots to help with inventory in stores.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the retailer ended its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics, which was to have supplied robots to more than 1,000 Walmart stores this year.

Sources told the Journal that Walmart found different, simpler solutions, such as workers, to do the job the robots were doing, and retailer executives had concerns about shoppers’ reactions to the robots as they interacted in the aisles.

Earlier this year, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the robots were part of a plan to reduce costs and gain a technological edge on competitors such as Amazon.

The company’s goal was to bring shelf-scanning robots to 650 additional stores this year, which would mean more than 1,000 stores would have them by the end of the summer.

A Walmart spokeswoman told the Journal that robots were in about 500 stores when the retailer pulled the plug on the program.

“We learned a lot about how technology can assist associates, make jobs easier, and provide a better customer experience,” she said in the Journal story. “We will continue testing new technologies and investing in our own processes and apps to best understand and track our inventory and help move products to our shelves as quickly as we can.”

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services