Impersonal Shopper: New Robo-Stockboy Tallies Up Inventory

It's time once again for the Robot Replacement Roundup, in which we assess the viability of a seemingly-harmless robot taking over your job.  Bartenders, pizza cooks, fast food folks, factory workers, personal chefs, and hotel staff have already been considered candidates for replacement, and now, the 'bots are taking their style to the aisles...

The Terminators arrived not with a bang, but with a whisper.
Namely, "You need to order more Pop-Tarts."
(Image courtesy

According to, your supermarket could soon be super-powered...with robots, that is.  A new robot called Tally will act as a virtual stock-person by cruising through a store, checking which products are low or sold out, adjusting price discrepancies, detecting misplaced items, and alerting its humanoid overlords to fix any issues therein.  Then the humans can deal with these problems without any of the arduous, fallacious, pre-robotic-style counting and observing and all that.

As the Simbe robotics website explains, they are "Automating the most mundane, repetitive tasks in retail execution."  And the Tally is even better at it than you, lowly human.  As Simbe expressed in a press release, "Tally has the ability to audit shelves cheaper, more frequently, and significantly faster than existing processes; and with near-perfect accuracy."

It's only a matter of time before it's hacked to alert management where the hot customers are at.
(Image courtesy

Tally uses onboard sensors to detect not only the dearth of potato chips during football season or the complete lack of cranberry sauce around Thanksgiving, but also to sense its surroundings of humans and store displays.  Due to this perspicacity, it can easily operate during normal store hours, updating inventory in real-time.  And it won't even make sassy remarks to fat customers who fill their carts with Twinkies.

Tally uploads data to a cloud, which can be accessed by those who place orders, well, further up the food chain.  When his "job" is done, Tally even scoots off autonomously to its own charging station, which is a nice change from those dirty high school stockboys getting high in the walk-in cooler.

"Am I super blazed, or is there a robot doing my job?"
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Theoretically, a device like Tally would allow store employees more free time to "focus on customer service", although it remains to be seen how critical this would be to store operations.  In the meantime, watch your back the next time you go pick up some steaks or beer.  It may be only a matter of time before Tally can recognize you, greet you, assess your blood pressure, recommend some fresh kale instead of red meat, recognize your blood-alcohol count, and inform you there's a two-for-one special on King Cobra 40-ounces.

We're still not sure if that's a good thing or not.

"We're out of booze again, boss.  No, no, it was totally the humans buying it all, I swear."
(Image courtesy

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