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WALMART IS TESTING A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE

Aruba, November 28, 2017 - It's not just Google and Tesla: Walmart is quietly testing a self-driving vehicle, but this one scrubs floors.

With its orange caution light, red bristles and bulky frame, the device looks like any other late-night floor cleaner, with one exception: No human is needed to operate it.
 
Walmart has quietly begun testing an advanced, autonomous floor scrubber during overnight shifts in five stores near the company's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., a move that could free workers from hours of drudgery, but that has already raised alarm among some employees. As the U.S.’s largest private-sector employer, Walmart is watched carefully for any shifts it makes to its workplace.
 
The machine resembles a traditional scrubber but comes equipped with similar technology used in self-driving cars: extensive cameras, sensors, algorithms and Lidar for navigational mapping. Think of it as a Roomba crossed with a Tesla. A human must first drive the device to train it on a path; it can then operate largely independently, including when a store is open to customers. If a person or object gets in its way, it momentarily pauses and adjusts course.
 
The device is the creation of San Diego-based Brain Corp., according to a person familiar with the matter. The company, which will employ about 100 by year’s end, develops autonomous software and raised $114 million in Series C funding in July, led by Softbank’s $93 billion Vision Fund. A Brain Corp. representative said the company doesn’t comment about specific clients. A Walmart spokesperson, Kory Lundberg, confirmed the test but said it is still in a “proof of concept” phase. If successful, it could be rolled out to more stores.
 
“We’re always testing new ideas and new technology,” Lundberg said. “We still have a lot more to learn about how this technology will work best for our different retail locations.”
 
Multiple employees who work at the retailer's 24-hour Supercenter in Pineville, Mo., about 20 minutes north of Walmart's home office, confirmed the use of the device to me this week, saying it had been tested in their store for about a month this fall. In a private Facebook group earlier this month, someone who claims to be a worker at the Pineville store shared a photo of the greyish vehicle making a turn near a display for $78 deer feeders. No one is seated in the driver’s seat, and two “caution, cleaning in progress” banners are shown on both sides of the device. An ICE logo is also affixed; Holland, Mich.-based International Cleaning Equipment, a Brain Corp. partner, manufactures the scrubbing equipment itself.
 
 

By orbitalnets.com