U.S. News

Robotic janitors coming to Walmart next month

By Clyde Hughes   |   Dec. 3, 2018 at 10:43 AM
Automated floor cleaners will be used at hundreds of Walmart store locations by the end of January, the company said Monday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Retail giant Walmart announced Monday it will use hundreds of janitor robots -- automated floor scrubbers -- at certain U.S. locations next month.

The store chain said the machines, made by San Diego-based Brain Corp., can clean floors even when customers are around and are already cleaning floors at airports in Seattle, San Diego, Boston and Miami, Brain CEO Eugene Izhikevich said.

Walmart said 360 of the robots will be used by the end of January at select locations.

"We can take anything that has wheels and turn it into a fully autonomous robot, provided that it can go slow and stopping is never a safety concern," Izhikevich told Bloomberg. "And it's more than just navigation. It is to robots what Android operating system is to smartphones."

Phil Duffy, Brain vice president of innovation and marketing, told Fox News last month the robots have been quietly used in other locations.

A joint statement Monday from Walmart and Brain said the machines also are equipped with data collecting capabilities that are tied to a cloud-based system.

To train the machines, Walmart employees take them on an initial training ride so they can map the route. Once that's done, the bot works on its own after the automated function is activated. Built-in sensors allow it to scan and avoid people and other potential obstacles.

"We're excited to work with Brain Corp in supporting our retail operations and providing our associates with a safe and reliable technology," John Crecelius, Walmart's vice president of central operations, said.

"BrainOS is a powerful tool in helping our associates complete repetitive tasks so they can focus on other tasks within role and spend more time serving customers."