Robotics: Making the World a Giant Roomba

Trump is raging against the desperate migrants at the U.S. southern border, but he seems oblivious to the ways that robotics is already changing our work force.

WalMart is deploying 360 AI powered robotic cleaners as a test in various of its stores. The robotic Roombas will replace humans pushing brooms and mops. The store claims this will free up associates to offer more customer service, but I have my doubts. I last entered a WalMart in Rochester many years ago, but my overwhelming impression was that it’s next to impossible to find anyone to ask anything. I suspect WalMart is simply eliminating those cleaning jobs — most of which probably happen overnight anyway, while the store is closed.

Quartz, reporting tongue in cheek on the trend, says we’ve seen the future and it’s a Giant Roomba. CNBC describes how the robotic floor scrubbers work:

Brain Corp. makes the robot floor scrubbers, called the Auto-C, powered by the company’s BrainOS technology platform, which includes autonomous navigation that uses multiple sensors to scan the robots’ surroundings for obstacles, like people. (That means the autonomous robots could even be used when customers are in the store.)”

I have no plans to return to WalMart, and I’m not enticed by the image of a large moving object sharing my aisle but designed specifically to navigate around me. And if I were a member of WalMart’s low wage cleaning staff, I’d be really worried.

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