If you thought shoppers at Walmart are pampered enough already with motorized shopping carts, read on to be surprised. Walmart plans to further spoil its customers by even avoiding the act of reaching to a shopping cart.
Instead, the motorized and self driven shopping cart would reach the customer irrespective of where the customer is located within the store. This is akin to hailing a cab at the press of a button which arrives exactly where you are.
To make this happen, the technology uses motorized transport units that are capable of being remotely controlled by a central computer. These motorized transport units are also configured to releasably attach themselves to existing shopping carts by sliding under them. This allows them to fetch shopping carts from a storage area and bring them to the location where a customer is present.
All that a customer needs to do is press a button either on their smartphone or a special mobile device provided by the store. This initiates a process of determining the current location of the customer which is then provided to the central computer. The central computer then transmits a wireless signal to one of many motorized transport units providing the location of the customer.
The motorized transport unit then undocks itself and begins navigating itself to the shopping cart storage area to fetch an empty shopping cart. After engaging with the shopping cart, the motorized transport unit autonomously safely navigates itself through the store to reach the customer’s location. Upon arriving at the customer’s location, the motorized transport unit may detach itself from the shopping cart allowing the customer to use the shopping cart. Alternatively, the motorized transport unit may continue navigating based on navigation instructions from the customer’s mobile device, while remaining attached to the shopping cart.
We wonder what else is up Walmart’s innovative sleeves. Perhaps, products that automatically fly off the shelf and right into the shopping cart!
Publication number: US 20160260161
Patent Title: Shopping facility assistance systems, devices and methods
Publication date: 8 Sep 2016
Filing date: 4 Mar 2016
Inventors: Michael D. Atchley; Donald R. High; David C. Winkle;
Original Assignee: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.