Earlier this week, Walmart declared a wide-scale expansion of hi-tech tech. The information came, obviously, as the chain is currently fighting Amazon’s encroachment with everything it’s. The list consists of several robotics technologies — a category where Amazon has been invested for years, starting with the purchase of Kiva systems in 2012.
The shelves are stocked with groceries that will look instantly recognizable to anyone who’s spent time in an American supermarket. There are clothes items on hangers, also, along with a string of technology toys that offer a peek into the not-so-distant history of Bossa Nova.
“If you think about it, what is the last innovation that has happened in a store? ,” CTO and co-founder Sarjoun Skaff asks rhetorically. And retailers have always been really good at tracking a product through the supply chain — by the producer, on the boat, through customs and the distribution centre. It’s a black box, If it hits the stores. It’s anyone’s guess whether it is on the shelf, it is in a rear room, whether there’s any theft or a lost product.”
Walmart been invested in the business. The merchant was Bossa Nova’s first spouse, after piloting the technology in some shops. Even with a rather small amount like 50 locations, the bargain was an acceleration from 0-60 for a startup of Bossa Nova’s size, as it worked to create custom versions of its autonomous scanners.
“What we’d love to do is serve the whole industry, because basically, the problem we are solving is universal,” he clarifies. “The entire world has the issue, and nobody has a remedy. For big shops, the best solution is a combination of robotics and AI.”
Bossa Nova’s system is capable of making sure things are where they need to be and monitoring boxes. It’s a surprisingly intricate task, particularly in stores as large as the ones run by Walmart . Additionally, it is incredibly dull and repetitive — just as I can attest to this.
A full list of partner shops hasn’t been released, but if you are lucky, you can catch one of its robots wrapped up and down the aisles of a local supermarket, three times every day. As for whether Bossa Nova, as Amazon failed with Kiva might be eventually absorbed by Walmart, Skaff is cautious.
Back in 2017, the retail giant announced that it would be rolling out Bossa Nova’s shelf-scanning robots .
“Our robot does not have arms right now, so it is not replacing the manual labour of restocking a shelf,” he states. “It’s displacing the tedious job of searching for issues, which is really mind-numbing. And in shops, it is really hard for a person to compete. Since there was no option associates have had to take action. As soon as we can tell you where the issues are, you can spend your time fixing them, restocking the shelves and spending more time with shoppers.”
While the business was made in 2005 when its creators were PhD students at nearby Carnegie Mellon, it wasn’t until it opted for something much more mundane that it really truly found its own way.
There is Penbo, the robotic penguin, who pregnant with an egg. And, of course, Prime 8, the gorilla that runs on his two prominent forearms. The goods made it to advertise with limited success, mostly failing to predict the fickle whims of children.
We paid a visit to the company on a excursion to the Steel City. The company’s out-of-the-way headquarters are placed in a huge warehouse. Beyond the nondescript front offices, where employees work at computers, is a cavernous region that’s home to a workshop for iterating its own robots, coupled with large aisles of shelves designed to mimic the stores where the technology will eventually be set up.