Grabbing a customer a bag of chips from the back of a grocery store isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s still a real job that provides people with real cash. But it might very well be replaced by robots in the near future: San Francisco-based robotics company Simbe has premiered its first product, a robot named Tally. The 30-pound robot is designed to audit shelves for out-of-stock items, misplaced items, and pricing errors. It sort of looks like a vacuum.

“When it comes to the retail industry, shopper experience is everything,” said Brad Bogolea, the CEO of Simbe Robotics, to Computer World. “Tally helps retailers address these challenges [products not being on the shelf] by providing more precise and timely analysis of the state of in-store merchandise and freeing up staff to focus on customer service.”

The idea is that the robot will operate during normal store hours, so you can look forward to scooting your cart past Tally as you look for Top Ramen. The data that Tally gathers is sent up into the “cloud” where it then will be accessed by store employees who will learn exactly where and what needs restocking.

Tally comes around at a time when more data is accumulating that millions of jobs will be replaced by robots in the near future. A recent study conducted by the Bank of England reveals that more than 80 million jobs in the United States and 15 million jobs in the United Kingdom will be replaced by robots within the next ten to 20 years.

“These machines are different,” said Haldane to CNN. “Unlike in the past, they have the ability to substitute for human brains as well as hands.”


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