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Walmart abandons shelf-scanning robots, lets humans do work

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 2, 2020

Walmart said Monday Nov. 2, 2020, it has ended its relationship with startup Bossa Nova Robotics, which builds roving robots equipped with cameras for identifying out-of-stock and misplaced products.  (Associated Press)
Walmart said Monday Nov. 2, 2020, it has ended its relationship with startup Bossa Nova Robotics, which builds roving robots equipped with cameras for identifying out-of-stock and misplaced products. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

NEW YORK — Walmart is laying off the robots it had deployed in about 500 stores to keep tabs on what’s on and not on the shelves.

The retailer said Monday it has ended its relationship with startup Bossa Nova Robotics, which builds roving robots equipped with cameras for identifying out-of-stock and misplaced products.

Walmart said in a statement it has “worked with Bossa Nova for five years and together we learned a lot about how technology can assist associates, make jobs easier and provide a better customer experience.” It said it is still testing other new technologies for tracking inventory and moving goods.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the ending partnership Monday, citing unnamed people familiar with the situation who said the retailer found human workers could get similar results. There was also some concern about how shoppers reacted to robots doing the work, according to the report.

Bossa Nova, which was founded in 2005 in Pittsburgh didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Monday.

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