(Pocket-lint) - Walmart has said that following an initial test of 360 cleaning robots in its stores in the US, it's now rolling them out to over a third of stores (1,860) by next February alongside a host of other robots as it looks to "robot up" its stores.
The "smart assistants" will reduce the amount of time workers spend on "repeatable, predictable, and manual" tasks allowing their employees to talk and help customers more, but some are worried this could mean the start of people being replaced in the workplace.
It's not just using robots to clean floors; the company is also embracing robots elsewhere and plans to have robots that scan shelf inventory at 350 stores. The Auto-S robots, as they will be known, will be able to scan items on store shelves to help ensure availability, correct shelf location, and price accuracy according to Walmart allowing them and customers to see if a store as a product in stock before they visit.
But it's not just the supermarket floor that is embracing robots, Walmart says it's adding a FAST Unloader robot that works in connection with the scanner robot out front.
Heading to 1,200 stores, the new machine automatically scan boxes as they come of the delivery trucks and sort them by department onto conveyer belts.
The conveyer belts, which will need a human still to place them there in the first place, will then scan and sorts the items. According to Walmart it will takes a third of the time previously.
The company says it's all part of a plan to modernise its stores as it continues to try and compete with online companies like Amazon.
Walmart's move to introduce a robotic workforce into the workplace isn't new, but it is likely to be a trend we are going to see over the next decade as service robots slowly move into our lives in both retail and the home.
While robots aren't likely to replace us all any time soon, they will start by doing the boring jobs that are easily programmable, and that is going to have a dramatic effect on the workforce, especially at the lower menial end of the scale.
How that group of people react is yet to be seen, and as we've seen in previous big industry change movements, as one set of jobs are lost, another new set is created.
The question is though, will this change happen quicker than most are prepared for?