Walmart’s ‘smart assistants’ are here

Bossa Nova roams the aisles, scanning items and telling associates what needs to be restocked.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart plans to test  its $265-million robotic technology investment, known as “smart assistants,” in 54 Texas stores this year, starting with a store in New Braunfels, Texas.

According to local TV station KSAT 12 news, consumers shouldn’t be surprised to see self-scanning robots and self-floor scrubbers in the New Braunfels store. One robot, named the Bossa Nova, roams the aisles of Walmart about three times a day for three-hour periods, scanning items and telling associates what needs to be restocked.

“Before, something that may have been stocked tomorrow or later in the day now can be [stocked within] minutes of [the robot] coming in,” said Jason Justice, store manager of the Walmart in New Braunfels.

The “smart assistants,” which Walmart announced in April, can do many things, including being programmed to clean a store’s floor and scan product items as they’re unloaded from trucks.

“Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, “said John Crecelius, senior vice president of Central Operations for Walmart U.S. “It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”