Starting soon you may notice something unusual pass by as you’re browsing the aisles of your local supermarket. Meet Tally, the world’s first fully autonomous robot whose purpose is to audit store shelves to ensure products are stocked, correctly priced, and to manage store inventory. Tally is the latest creation by Simbe Robotics, a robotics company based out of San Francisco.
Tally is a mobile machine that uses image-recognition technology to quickly scan its surroundings, search for errors and use analytics to collect inventory data. Using high-resolution imagery of store shelves, Tally can accurately identify and count products at a pace unprecedented in a retail environment. While in the aisle, Tally can maneuver around customers and other obstacles to provide information in real-time so that businesses can know immediately if a product needs to be restocked or is in the wrong location.
One of the biggest problems for retailers is managing their inventory and understanding how much product to buy. Brad Bogolea, Simbe co-founder and CEO, said in an interview. “Retailers are rarely able to do item-level counting; the only time inventory is checked at that level is when it passes through a checkout counter, or a manager tasks an employee with walking around with a [radio-frequency] gun.” Tally solves this problem by instantly providing businesses with the appropriate data to help said businesses make better financial decisions. For many retailers, the cost to hire extra employees to manage their inventory is too expensive and labor-intensive. Retailers can use these savings to hire more positions that are critical to the success of their business, such as merchandisers, product specialists, and customer service associates.
So what is next for Simbe Robotics? Currently, the company is looking towards the future to find ways to help retailers thrive in the online space. While 23 percent of Americans are buying groceries online today, that’s expected to more than triple in less than 10 years. With the online grocery industry experiencing incredible growth, Simbe plans to be at the forefront of automating the grocery and retail experience.