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Walmart Brings on the Robot Hordes 0

Posted on 12, April 2019

in Category Blog


Retail behemoth Walmart will bring thousands more robots into its stores. This, Walmart says, will make the human workers happy.

Automation is supposed to make workers happy. Workers who can give up repetitive, tedious, or dangerous jobs should be happy. Walmart is taking human beings out of the most unsatisfying jobs, like scrubbing floors or cleaning inventory. Robots are just as happy scrubbing floors and scanning shelves as they are doing anything else, but human beings are probably happier helping customers or doing other human jobs.

With thousands of robots heading into Walmart stores, there are bound to be some surprises, but Walmart has been trying these automated coworkers out for some time. They’ve observed interactions with workers and customers.

They’ve seen customers ask what the robots are and heard workers say, “He’s helping me.”

They’ve also seen people walk obliviously past the robots, treating them as they would a ladder or a refrigerator case. In other words, ignoring them as the generally inanimate objects they are.

They’ve even seen people walk over to the six foot tall shelf scanner and kick them, for no apparent reason.

Walmart is ready for whatever response people have to their robots.

So far, reviews from the inside are not universally positive. An insider said the robots still need a lot of “babysitting.” They text human coworkers to ask for help… and they do a lot of texting. “It will do the easy stuff,” the worker said.

From Walmart’s point of view, that could be fine. Paying a human being to do the easy stuff might not be any more satisfying than it is for the human being to do the easy stuff.

Walmart is rolling out the robots and will doubtless continue to tweak the system. In the meantime, if your Rexroth electric motion control system is in need of service or support, we can do that for you. We specialize in Rexroth electric industrial automation: servos, drives, and controls. We offer phone support, field support, and factory repair or reman. Call us first for Rexroth service.

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