Walmart Uses Robots for Its US Stores

Category: Technology/Innovations

Listening

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. venture / ˈvɛntʃɚ / (v) – to do something new or risky
    Example:

    The company is going to venture into the use of robots.


  2. repetitive / rɪˈpɛtətɪv / (adj) – happening many times
    Example:

    I bag groceries at the store every day. This work is very repetitive.


  3. adapt / əˈdæpt / (v) – to change depending on new conditions
    Example:

    After a few days, he was able to adapt to his new job.


  4. obstacle / ˈɑːb.stə.kəl / (n) – an object that blocks one’s path or way
    Example:

    The cat jumped over the obstacle on its path to the garden.


  5. restock / riˈstɑːk / (v) – to refill or put a new supply of something that has been sold or taken
    Example:

    I restocked the shelf of cookies that was empty.


Article

Read the text below.

Retail giant Walmart is venturing into the use of robots in its stores in the United States.


By the end of January, the biggest US retail corporation will employ 360 robot janitors with artificial intelligence (AI). The robot, called the Auto-C, was developed by the company Brain Corporation. This machine is capable of scrubbing the floors without a human operator.


According to one of Walmart’s vice presidents, using robot janitors will allow human staff to become more productive. With the Auto-C handling repetitive tasks, employees can dedicate their time and energy to perform more valuable duties, such as serving customers.


For the robots to function, a human employee must first operate the Auto-C manually. This way, the robot can learn the store’s layout. After that, the robots can clean the floors independently. Built with sensors, these cleaning machines can gather information and adapt to their surroundings. These robots can also be used even in crowded stores because they can avoid obstacles.


Aside from cleaning, the Auto-C can also upload the information it collected on Walmart’s online platform. For example, the Auto-C can identify empty shelves, which can then be restocked by human staff.


The introduction of AI robot janitors is just one of the ways Walmart uses modern technology in its store operations. In 2017, Walmart introduced shelf-scanning robots that can check prices and identify items with missing or incorrect labels.


Additionally, Walmart has started using another robot to assist store employees. This robot can bring items ordered online from the storage to the store staff. This means less time searching for products.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it is a good idea to use AI robots as janitors? Why or why not?

• In your opinion, what industries can benefit from AI robots replacing human workers? Explain.


Discussion B

• How do you think AI robots will change in the future? Discuss.

• If you had an AI robot, what would you want it to do for you? What features would it have?