Simbe Robotics today announced the Tally 3.0, the company’s latest generation of inventory management robot that now features better optical capabilities and more computing power on the edge.
Simbe’s Tally is an autonomous robot that wanders grocery store aisles to monitor product levels and detect misplaced items. By automating this task with robots, Simbe says stores get a more accurate, closer-to-real time snapshot of on-shelf inventory to make more informed stocking decisions.
Improvements to the Tally include added Intel RealSense depth and RGB cameras to help the robot “see” more products on shelves and stacked in coolers. The new camera system can read data from up to 30 inches away, which, according to the press announcement, brings the robot’s recognition accuracy to almost 99 percent without needing to slow down.
The Tally 3.0 has also pushed its computer vision and AI algorithms to the device itself. By running this additional processing on the edge, the new Tally can capture and provide data to store managers more quickly without needing to send as much information to Simbe’s cloud platform. This can be especially helpful for stores that may not have a lot of internet bandwidth at their location.
Simbe claims that its Tally detects up to 10x more out-of-stock items than manual audits, and averages a 20 percent reduction in out-of-stock items at the store level.
Brad Bogolea, Simbe Robotics Co-Founder and CEO,told me by phone earlier this month that his company saw a massive uptick in interest around August and September, spurred in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent panic buying outages. As Bogolea explained to me during an interview in August, stores experienced those outages because of bad supply chain data. As we wrote then:
The bad supply chain data, according to Bogolea, is a result of the manual inventory checks that stores currently carry out. If robots are used, shelf inventory count is more accurate and up to the minute (basically) because the robots can run multiple shelf audits throughout the day. More accurate data means that stores can respond faster when there is a sudden run on particular products to speed up replenishment.
While Bogolea obviously has a horse in this particular race, we’ve definitely seen broader adoption of robots to help maintain retail inventories. Bossa Nova’s shelf-scanning robot is being deployed to 1,000 Walmart locations, and Badger Technologies’ robot is being used at Woodman’s Markets across the Midwest.
Schnucks Markets recently announced that it expanding the use of Simbe’s Tally to 62 of its locations, and Giant Eagle is trialing Tally as well. Simbe offers the Tally for a monthly subscription costing between $2,000 and $4,000 a month per store, depending on the number of stores. Though when I spoke to Bogolea this month, he said that through better sensor technology and improved manufacturing, the company is continuing to bring that cost down.