The People of Walmart only includes the odd folk who frequent the American mega-chain, but it turns out that the people who run the company itself are just as strange, lazy and kooky.
But it’s their strange, lazy, kookiness that lead them to this amazing invention; the self driving shopping trolley.
A recent patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows that Walmart is looking at creating a fleet of flat, round droids very similar to those little self-powered vacuum cleaners.
These little shopping helper bots would be able to be summoned, find the nearest shopping cart and latch onto the bottom of it, then act as little chauffeurs, directing you around the store and pulling the trolley along for you as you shop.
In the recently approved patent documents, designs show that the droids would navigate with the use of various onboard sensors and cameras, allowing them to steer through the aisles and crowds without mowing people down.
When not being used for shopping, the droids would live underground, with a chute giving them access between their cave and the store. They could also be used to collect errant trolleys in the parking area and return them to the trolley bay.
There are several possibilities covered in the patent document for how the customer would summon the droid. Options thus far include offering a summoning point in store where customers can push a button and have a droids grab a trolley and come find them, or a smartphone app which connects with the local network and gives the user more direct control.
If they do go down the path of the smartphone app, the designers have even gone so far as to envision the droids becoming proxy guides for shoppers. Looking for something specific, but aren’t sure where it is? Just search for it in your app, and let your trolley take you straight to it!
Another possible method of control mentioned in the patent is voice control with voice feedback. But if we can’t understand all the different and unusual American accents out there, we can’t imagine how confusing it would be for the poor little robots!
And once you’ve finished all your shopping and are ready to pay, your trolley will detect and head to the least busy checkout area.
Of course, don’t get too excited, at this stage this is simply a patent. It could be years before Walmart actually starts to seriously look at creating these little guys — if they even decide to create them at all.
Sorry, people of Walmart, for now you’ll just have to keep pulling those trolleys yourself while your kids hang on for dear life.