California Intellectual Property Blog


#Walmart Seeks #Patent for Robo-Shopping Cart

shopping-cartsOrange County – Advancements in technology today continue to soar to new levels. Walmart has filed for a patent that would bring consumers a whole new experience at the grocery store. The patent is for “a robotic device that would create self-driving shopping carts, giving customers free hands while they shop.”

If the patent is approved, robo-carts would be summoned by customers, respond to voice commands and use scanners to notice inventory issues. The system uses a number of small “motorized transport units” that would connect to the bottom of carts, as well as a central computer, video cameras, Wi-Fi and other components.

The robo-carts are intended to make the shopping experience more enjoyable for customers, giving customers a hands free experience since the cart will automatically follow you around the store. The carts can also help with stocking and checking inventory.

While this may facilitate the experience of shoppers, the robo-cart is ”predicted to take 5.1 million jobs away from humans over the next five years, with low-paying, low-skill jobs considered those most at risk.” Walmart states: “And while it’s too early to determine how we would even potentially use this technology, our goal always is to find ways to help simplify processes to help our associates better serve our customers as they will continue to play a critical role in the success of our business.”

The patent also states, “In the modern retail store environment, there is a need to improve the customer experience and/or convenience for the customer.” It goes on to say, “Customers often require assistance that employees of the store are not always able to provide.” Since the cart will always be with you, there will be no need to search the store for an employee to assist. The robo-carts would also eliminate the human error factor in answering basic questions about the store. Walmart is known for having issues with labor unions and there have been customer complaints regarding understaffed stores which could be partially due to the high employee turnover rates.

Walmart claims the patent is for technology which will allow it to improve the shopping experience for consumers. Since it is also expected to decrease labor costs and issues along the way, this appears to be a product you are more likely to see in stores than not.


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