Tally robot autonomously monitors store shelves

Posted on 13 Nov 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

A new robotic system called Tally has been unveiled this week in order to help retailers better manage their store inventories.

Produced by US-based robotics startup Simbe Robotics, the Tally robot is a meter-high system designed for retail environments.

Specifically the robot uses an array of built-in sensors to monitor levels of products in store shelves.

Retailers such as supermarkets, hardware stores and many others rely on what is a called a planogram in order to maintain an optimal display of their products.

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Through interference by customers and other events, this planogram can be disrupted, causing losses for the store. Simbe Robotics claims that retail losses from such disruptions amount to $450bn a year globally.

The Tally robot seeks to avoid this problem by autonomously traversing store isles while scanning and identifying these disruptions, before alerting a human colleague to rectify them.

Currently, Tally is about to detect empty shelves and sold-out products, mislabeled or unclearly priced products, as well as products which are incorrectly orientated.

Furthermore, the makers of the robot claim that it is also about to scan IR codes and integrate into a retailer’s existing IT systems through the use of the open source ‘Robot Operating System (ROS)’.

Upon completing its shelf scans, the robot can autonomously return to a docking station to recharge its batteries before resuming work.

“When it comes to the retail industry, shopper experience is everything. If a product is unavailable at the time the shopper wants to buy it, the retailer has missed an opportunity and disappointed their customer,” said Brad Bogolea, CEO and co-founder of Simbe Robotics.

“Tally helps retailers address these challenges by providing more precise and timely analysis of the state of in-store merchandise and freeing up staff to focus on customer service.”

The robot itself is currently being trialed by a number of retailers in North America, however, as yet, no official commercial release date has been announced.

In addition, information on the price per unit for the Tally robot is not yet available.