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Several robotics companies have grown their autonomous mobile robot fleet in 2019 and are poised to scale exponentially over the next five years, according to press release from global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research. Retail is an industry tied to a significant portion of this vast growth, as automation and efficiency remain key drivers for meeting today’s consumer demands. 

By 2025, more than 150,000 mobile robots will be deployed in bricks and mortar establishments, projects ABI.

“The value proposition for mobile robots in intralogistics is a familiar one: labor costs are too high, and production efficiency is too low. Deploying commercial robots eliminates concerns around driver cost and safety and can facilitate waste reduction,” says Rian Whitton, senior robotics analyst at ABI Research. “However, mobile robots in the retail market can also add value in other ways.

With robots that can handle floor cleaning, data-collecting systems for inventory, automated tugs for material handling in the back room and on the shop floor, and even security, this ecosystem is rapidly growing. 

Walmart’s most high-profile inventory management partnerships to date is with robotics startup Bossa Nova. So far in 2019, they have deployed 350 systems for inventory management across Walmart stores, with roughly one robot for each store. Other developers targeting the space include Badger Technologies and Simbe Robotics, another startup on the rise.

Customer demand for accuracy and speed of delivery continues to provide retailers with a sense of urgency around robots and automation. 

“Retailers looking to compete with e-commerce providers face an uphill battle without an omnichannel approach that utilizes a multitude of channels for last-mile delivery and overall customer satisfaction,” says Witton. “Partnering with companies like Simbe and Bossa Nova, who specialize in data that optimizes inventory management, can extend retailers' own value proposition to the end-user.”