Barcelona-based PAL Robotics is set to launch a large-scale pilot of its motorized RFID-reading robot, StockBot, in Europe. While the robot will read the RFID tags attached to products, the software will identify the location of the tagged item within the store.
With the presence of RFID tags in nearly every apparel retail store, companies are finding ways to eliminate the use of an employee to conduct inventory counts. However, the conventional technique requires a person to walk along the retail floor with a handheld reader, waving the device past each group of products, or use fixed RFID readers, which are expensive. This led PAL Robotics develop StockBot, which is more automatic than handheld readers and less expensive than a fixed reader.
StockBot is claimed to be different than its competitors, as it is designed to adjust to a changing environment, such as the presence of customers, or the movement of displays or shelves. The robot can be controlled by the apparel retailers via a Wi-Fi connection using an Android phone. The robot stores the route of the store in its software, which gets updates automatically, based on change in conditions as detected by its built-in laser and 3D camera sensors. StockBot has had two previous versions, and this latest version is smaller than its predecessors but is still able to read tags on shelves at a height of 2 metres.
PAL Robotics is currently in discussions with European retailers for a long-term pilot of the third-generation of StockBot.