Walmart to use robot janitors to clean stores

Walmart will soon deploy hundreds of robot janitors to clean stores, the retailer announced on Monday.

The company said it expects to have 360 “Auto-C” robots active in stores by the end of January 2019. The robots look like smaller versions of the Zamboni machines used to clean ice rinks.

Walmart employees program a cleaning route for the robots, which are able to autonomously scrub floors and clean store aisles. The robots are equipped with sensors that allow it to safely navigate around customers and other objects in their paths.

"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, Walmart's vice president of 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."

Walmart has more than 5,000 U.S. stores.

 Bloomberg, which first reported the news, said Walmart already uses robots to help with managing store inventory and preparing online orders.

The rollout comes amid a broader push among major retailers to use technology to streamline their operations. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that e-commerce giant Amazon is testing cashierless checkout technology for large stores during a trial run in Seattle.