Walmart Patents Rolling Army Of Autonomous RoboCarts

In the last few years, Walmart has had problems with security and with keeping its shelves stocked, but of which it was able to fix by adding or re-allocating staff. One way that it could solve that problem is by having robots perform some tasks that robots can handle, and a patent that Walmart recently filed indicates that carts and merchandise that move themselves around may be coming to your local store. RoboCart?

Carts that gather themselves up would be a good or bad thing, depending on whether that’s your job, how you feel about that job in general, and what the weather’s like today.

Business Insider says that the system could have “terrifying” implications for workers, and it could if used to replace workers instead of to replace parking lot attendants or forklifts.

These carts wouldn’t just put themselves away, though: the devices would be connected to a central computer and use cameras and sensors to navigate stores and lots, driving themselves to customers who “hail” them.

There are other applications for a system like this, too: look at Amazon’s robots that it uses to bring shelves to human order-pickers to speed up its fulfillment centers. 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.

SHOPPING FACILITY ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS, DEVICES AND METHODS [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office]

Walmart is patenting ‘mini-robot’ technology that could have terrifying implications for workers [Business Insider]
Walmart wants shoppers to be able to hail a cart [CNN Money] (Warning: auto-play video at link)