- Simbe Robotics has unveiled an upgraded version of its autonomous inventory-management robot named Tally that is more accurate and durable than its predecessor, according to a press release.
- The new robot, dubbed Tally 3.0 and announced Thursday, is equipped with an on-board data processor and better optics than its predecessor. Schnuck Markets and Giant Eagle are two of the retailers that have deployed Tally in their aisles.
- Simbe is introducing its latest retail robot as rival Brain Corp works with Sam’s Club on a project to place shelf-scanning equipment on robotic floor cleaners at the warehouse operator’s stores.
The race is on as robotics specialists compete for attention from retailers looking for better ways to monitor the thousands of items that occupy their aisles.
Simbe’s new Tally 3.0 robot builds on technology the company first introduced in 2015 that automates the tedious job of keeping track of products on store shelves and alerting employees when inventory needs to be replaced. The upgraded robot will begin appearing in stores during the coming months and eventually replace the Tally 2.0 devices that have been operating in 2017, said Simbe co-founder and CEO Brad Bogolea.
The Tally 3.0 robot features upgraded two- and three-dimensional computer vision cameras that can focus automatically and have improved depth perception. That will allow the robot to discern product details like bar codes from a greater distance and help boost the accuracy of the system to almost 99%, according to the company.
The improvements will also enhance the robot’s ability to operate in challenging lighting conditions, Bogolea said. “In many retail stores you will see a variety of shelving fixtures, some that have good lighting, some that don’t, some that are old. The [better sensors] let you capture more detail in these environments even further.”
In addition, the new robot is equipped with graphics-processing hardware that can process image data locally before the information is transmitted to the cloud-based computers that provide retailers with inventory reports.
In addition to Schnucks, which said in September that it plans to use Tally robots in more than half of its stores, Simbe’s customers include Giant Eagle, Carrefour, Groupe Casino and Decathlon Sporting Goods. The company is also working with other retailers, but has not identified them.
Beyond the improvements to its optical and data-processing systems, the new robot features motors designed to help it stay operational for a greater length of time than the device that came before it, Bogolea said. Engineers expect Tally 3.0 to be able to log 5,000 or more miles scooting up and down store aisles — up significantly from the longevity of its predecessor, he said.
Simbe is rolling out its latest robot at the same time that rival Brain Corp expands the capabilities it offers to retailers. Brain Corp announced Wednesday that Sam’s Club will expand its use of robotic floor scrubbers based on the tech firm’s BrainOS technology, which will bring the automated equipment to all of the retailer's locations in the United States.
The robotics company also said that following a six-month test, Sam’s Club is expanding a pilot under which the retailer is using the autonomous cleaning gear to carry shelf-scanning equipment as they move around its warehouses.