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Walmart unveils Alphabot autonomous warehouse tech

Walmart Inc. on Jan. 8 introduced an autonomous warehouse system called Alphabot that will help the retailer improve its online grocery pickup and delivery process for both employees and customers.

Alphabot uses autonomous carts to retrieve ambient, refrigerated and frozen items ordered online, which are then delivered to a work station where an employee checks, bags and delivers the final order.

Brian Roth, senior manager of pickup automation and digital operations for Walmart U.S., said the system allows the company's associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency. For customers, Alphabot will allow them to place orders closer to pickup time as well as reduce the wait time when picking up an order.

"Ultimately, this will lower dispense times, increase accuracy and improve the entirety of online grocery. And it will help free associates to focus on service and selling, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks," Roth said.

In addition, Alphabot uses a more flexible system that will make its adoption easier across stores. It is also expected to make stocking more intelligent and make substitutions easier to anticipate and fill as the system continually learns from real-time data sharing.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based grocer said Alphabot has been operating at its Salem, N.H., warehouse since mid-2019. It will continue to run from this site as the process is refined and developed. Walmart said it will review the next steps for a broader rollout of the system after collecting feedback from workers and customers.

Robotics startup Alert Innovation Inc. developed the Alphabot exclusively for Walmart.