Hello, I am RoboCart
Walmart didn’t become number one by resting on any laurels. The chain strives to put a store in virtually every neighborhood in every city. It tries to offer products for every taste and some that even taste pretty good. And in some locations, they’re even doing the shopping for you and bringing your purchases to your car without you ever having to turn off the a/c.
Now, they are gearing up for the logical next step in the planned takeover of the free world: Automated shopping carts.
You’re laughing, but I would ask you to consider that the one thing that can shake a society to its knees isn’t going to the grocery store only to discover it doesn’t have any milk. Nope, it’s going to the grocery store and not finding any shopping carts.
That manual labor, tho
This is why Walmart recently filed a patent for carts that move themselves around independently. These carts wouldn’t just put themselves away, though – the devices would be connected to a central computer that uses cameras and sensors to navigate stores and lots, driving themselves to customers who need them.
There are other applications for a system like this, too. Instead of those college kids you always see in the parking lot rounding up abandoned shopping carts, the robocart will, in theory, be able to identify an unattended shopping cart in a store or parking lot and return it to a docking station, according to the filing.
While the patent paperwork shows the “motorized transport units” attached to carts, they could be attached to other things within a store or a Walmart warehouse.
For example, the potential is there for the carts to help Walmart manage its inventory. One portion of the filing describes a scenario in which the system receives a request for an item, searches an inventory database, then sends the motorized unit to a store shelf to ensure the product is there.
Coming to a store near you
The RoboCart – for lack of a better name – is just another example of tech doing the type of things that humans would rather avoid. Or can do cheaper and more efficiently. Stocking shelves, retrieving shopping carts, and who knows what else – coming soon to a Walmart near you.