A mobile robot called Tally has got a job at Schnucks grocery stores, where it will wander round the aisles and make mental notes of what products are running low on stock and checking prices.
Developed by Simbe Robotics, Tally is said to perform the tasks humans might find boring and time-consuming. It can do this while customers are shopping or after the stores close.
Simbe claims Tally is the “world’s first fully autonomous robotic shelf auditing and analytics solution for the retail industry”, and suggests the technology could save some of the $450 billion retailers lose annually through inefficiencies which Tally can help resolve.
Tally uses the store’s planogram – like a floor and shelf plan of the store – to find its way round, but the data it collects can also be used to maximise shop layouts and product placements.
The wheeled robot uses cloud-connected software and an API.
Brad Bogolea, CEO of Simbe Robotics, says: “When it comes to the retail industry, shopper experience is everything. If a product is unavailable at the time the shopper wants to buy it, the retailer has missed an opportunity and disappointed their customer.
“Tally helps retailers address these challenges by providing more precise and timely analysis of the state of in-store merchandise and freeing up staff to focus on customer service.”
Tally is built on the open source Robot Operating System, weighs about 15 kg, and is about 40 inches tall, but can be adjusted according to shelf height.
As well as Schnucks, Simbe says Tally is currently on trial at several North American retailers.
Although it’s currently not geared up for customer interaction, it may be just a matter of time before it’s able to do the cashier’s job as well.