The robots are coming for Walmart workers’ jobs, with the retail giant saying it plans to add almost 4,000 robots to its stores and facilities as it seeks to remove human workers from routine tasks like scrubbing floors.
The company said the plan is part of a goal to shift human workers to customer-service roles, such as “engaging with customers,” according to a blog post. The new robots include the “Auto-C,” which polishes floors, and the FAST Unloader, which scans and sorts items unloaded from delivery trucks.
The investment in automation comes as the retail giant has pledged to boost worker wages, pledging $2.7 billion over two years to boost pay as well as training and education. Robots, while requiring an initial investment, promise lower labor costs because they don’t require benefits, while they can often perform the same job in much less time than a human worker. Walmart said the Auto-C will replace a store worker who typically spent two hours polishing floors with a scrubbing machine.