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Walmart launches picking robots at US DC

14 January 2020

The robots are produced by startup Alert Innovation and are working alongside pickers at the facility in Salem, New Hampshire.

The Alphabot is designed to enable quicker, more efficient order picking. The system operates inside a 20,000-square-foot warehouse-style space, using autonomous carts to retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items ordered for online grocery. After it retrieves them, Alphabot delivers the products to a workstation, where a Walmart associate checks, bags and delivers the final order.

As the pickup and delivery process works today, associates select items from the sales floor for customers, package them and then deliver them. While associates will continue to pick produce and other fresh items by hand, Alphabot will help make the retrieval process for all other items easier and faster, says Walmart.

Brian Roth, Walmart said: “By assembling and delivering orders to associates, Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency. Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks.

“Alphabot is what we think of as micro-fulfillment – an inventive merger of e-commerce and brick and mortar methods.”

The retailer added: “Real-time data sharing is also a benefit. Because Alphabot continually shares order information, the system will learn – and as it does, stocking will get more intelligent. Adoption of this new system across stores can lead to a more seamless grocery pickup and delivery experience, making substitutions easier to anticipate and fill.”

Alphabot has been operating at its pilot location in Salem since mid-2019. Next steps for a broader Alphabot rollout will be assessed.