Walmart is developing robotic shopping trolleys that can help customers find items on their shopping lists and drive themselves around stores.
The US retail titan is understood to be working with technology company Five Elements Robotics to create the automated shopping cart as part of its ongoing investments in IT, ecommerce and improving the store experience.
It comes just weeks after the Asda owner revealed it was piloting the use of drones in its warehouses to manage inventory.
Five Elements Robotics founder and chief executive Wendy Roberts revealed it was working with “the world’s largest retailer” on the shopping trolley during a talk at the Bloomberg Technology Conference.
Two years ago the company launched Budgee, a $1,400 personal robot that can carry things and follow its user around both inside and on outdoor terrain, so it already has the technology required to create shopping trolleys that could fulfil a similar role.
Walmart, which has declined to comment on the trial, is thought to be in the process of reviewing a prototype trolley in its lab.
The retailer is ploughing cash into technology and digital capabilities in a bid to make its stores easier to shop and fend off increasing competition from online rivals including Amazon.
It is pressing ahead with plans to roll out click-and-collect points, named Pickup, installing self-service checkouts and has also launched a mobile payment option through its existing Walmart smartphone app.
Walmart boss Doug McMillion also revealed during the retailer’s AGM – which was attended by Retail Week – that it is piloting a tie-up with Uber to fulfil home deliveries.
The retailer, which raked in $482bn (£337.4bn) in sales during its last financial year, is being placed under increasing pressure from investors to leverage technology in a bid to drive efficiency across the business.
Growth in Walmart’s bricks-and-mortar sales has been slowing and the retailer said global sales this year would be flat, with profits expected to fall by as much as 12% as a result of increased spending on wages and technology.
Amazon already uses 30,000 robots in its warehouses to help reduce the time and cost involved with getting online orders to customers.