LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Several Walmart stores in Nevada will be rolling out the robots, the company announced. The robots will be cleaning floors and stocking shelves.
Experts who studied robots in the workforce said the idea is if robots can do smaller tasks like cleaning up that mess in Aisle five, then employees can focus more on shoppers and give them better customer service.
“Anything that’s being done right now is exploratory, trying to figure it out,” UNLV Director of Hospitality Lab Robert Rippee said.
The next time shoppers go to Walmart, they may bump into a robot that cleans floors. Or maybe they will pick up their groceries at a vending machine that can fulfill mobile orders in less than a minute.
“Don’t think of robots as replacing humans today, but how can robots assist humans,” Rippee said.
Walmart is just one of the latest companies rolling out the robots, joining giants like Amazon and McDonald’s. Even several hotels on the Strip are turning to AI to serve customers.
“There’s no need to be alarmed right now, but we need to be aware that we only have about a five-year time horizon to prepare for much more massive roll outs," Johannes Moenius said.
Moenius studies AI in the workforce. He predicts Las Vegas will top the list, with an estimated 65 percent of jobs taken over by robots by 2035.
“So we need to think clearly about what robots are particularly bad at, or not as good as we are,” Moenius said. ”That’s human interaction and communication.”
“I don’t think there’s anything to fear,” Rippee added. “Embrace the technology just like we embraced the advent of computers in business.”
Moenius said the computer evolution hollowed out jobs for the middle class. He’s worried this new wave of technology will attack the bottom part of the labor market.
Rippee doesn’t know when the time will come, but he’s already preparing students to work alongside robots.
“How soon will technology be ready to do those things and today we see a lot of hype around robots, but not a lot of reality,” he said.
But he said job seekers need to start focusing on skills that robots can’t mimic.
“If I was giving any advice, it’d be: be as human as possible,” Rippee said. “That’s where we’ll always have an advantage over machines.”
Walmart is spending more than $16 million in Nevada implementing all of this technology.
Five stores across the state will have the Pickup Towers, which are 16-feet-tall, high-tech vending machines.
Fifteen Nevada stores will have the FAST Unloader, a new system in Walmart backrooms to scan and sort items.
Fifteen stores across the state will see the autonomous floor scrubber, used to clean and scrub concrete floors in the stores.