In the year I’ve been helming The Takeout’s Robot Beat, I’ve yet to report a win for the humans. That sad statistic changes today, as Walmart has reportedly ended its contract with Bossa Nova Robotics Inc., a company that produces shelf-scanning robots. And brace yourselves for this shit: the robots lost their jobs because of coronavirus, and will be replaced by humans. What a goddamn week we’re having here in America!
The Bossa Nova shelf scanner began its quest to
enslave provide a better customer service experience for humans two years ago at 300 Walmart locations across the country. “[The robot] roams the aisles, automatically gathering data to identify items that are out of stock and where to find them in the store,” explained Walmart in a 2018 blog post. “That information is then directly sent to associates through the Downstock app, eliminating the amount of time spent on mundane tasks and allowing more time to be spent helping customers find what they need.” As I have never found anyone to assist me at a Walmart before, I could have been on board with this robot if I didn’t recognize Bossa Nova as a Trojan horse for The Robots’ long game. First you think, “Wow, now I can always find someone to unlock the deodorant cage! Thanks, robot!” But the next thing you know, you’re asking sentient kitchen appliances if they might kindly unlock your cage. Take note, robots: I’m no fool.
After a relatively successful pilot program, it was announced earlier this year that the robots would be
terrorizing assisting Walmart employees at 1,000 stores by the end of 2020. And here we are in November, celebrating a rare win against our future oppressors—because when shit got real, the robots just couldn’t hack it. According to the Wall Street Journal, Walmart found “different, sometimes simpler solutions that proved just as useful.” The solution? Humans.
“As more shoppers flock to online delivery and pickup because of Covid-19 concerns, Walmart has more workers walking the aisles frequently to collect online orders, gleaning new data on inventory problems,” sources told WSJ. “The retailer is pursuing ways to use those workers to monitor product amounts and locations, as well as other automation technology, according to the people familiar with the situation.”
Way to go, fellow humans! That’s one less robot threatening our livelihood. Now we just need to worry about Walmart’s self-driving vehicle programs with Gatik, Ford, and Nuro; the 50,000-square-foot “Walmart of the Future”; the Alphabot; delivery drones; Walmart’s partial ownership of Tik Tok; and the insidious cabal of deep state robots that are so goddamn evil they don’t even have names.