San Diego-based tech company Brain Corp is sweeping the nation—literally.
The AI manufacturer has developed a robot that scrubs floors and collects valuable data in the process. This week, big-box retailer Walmart announced plans to place 360 of these machines in stores across the country by January 2019.
“We’re excited to work with Brain Corp in supporting our retail operations and providing our associates with a safe and reliable technology,” said John Crecelius, vice president of Walmart’s central operations. “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.”
The robots, which are equipped with sensors, are capable of navigating around people and obstacles. Because they can detect people, they can also collect data on peak shopping hours. Better yet, the robots can also alert employees when shelves are empty.
Weighing in at 620 pounds, each machine is capable of deploying 165 pounds of brush bad pressure. According to The Washington Post, the machines travel at a maximum of 2 mph in autonomous mode—which is approximately 1 mph slower than the average adult walking speed. They also come with yellow “safety guards” that prevent customers from hopping aboard for a ride.
The newly developed technology inevitably raises questions about job stability for those who work in the cleaning industry. The latest research suggests that those employed within this sector may want to develop new skills—and soon. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report released last year, 800 million people are at risk of losing their jobs to robots by 2030.
“Activities most susceptible to automation include physical ones in predictable environments, such as operating machinery and preparing fast food,” the report reads. “Collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines.”