AT&T is Working on 5G Retail Robots
5G is going to bring with it a whole host of opportunities, including new technologies for the retail environment. AT&T and Badger Technologies, a product division of Jabil, are already hard at work, trying to accelerate retail automation using autonomous robots that are tied to the 5G network.
The path towards automation in the customer-facing side of retail seems inevitable, especially once the 5G network gets fully up and running. But rather than thinking of it like robots are stealing your retail sales team’s jobs, store owners could view this as an opportunity to leave those menial tasks to the one-track-minded robot fleet of employees—like the one AT&T is working to create.
The partnership between AT&T and Badger will use Badger Technologies’ fleet of robots on the 5G network that AT&T is slowly but surely rolling out. When tied into that network, the retail robots will be able to autonomously roll up and down the aisles of a retail store, identifying out-of-stock items and potential in-store hazards.
In a statement announcing the partnership, AT&T explained that they’re working to provide a seamless, uninterrupted network experience by testing 5G connectivity with Badgers’ robots in a multi-access edge computing (MEC) environment. The goal, according to AT&T, is to demonstrate how 5G—using millimeter wave spectrum and edge computing—can provide Badger Technologies and retailers with lower latency and greater bandwidth required to process and share the vast amounts of data needed to allow the robot fleet to operate on top of the other in-store network applications.
“5G is an important next step to helping ensure shared visibility across critical inventory, POS and operational systems,” Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies, said in the statement. “Working with AT&T enables us to better support our retail customers by delivering information faster to increase store efficiencies, improve customer service and boost profits.”
AT&T said that its MEC solutions should be able to help Badger Technologies increase hyper-local data processing by providing a more private network connection than would typically be available through in-store WiFi networks. That gives Badger Technologies more control over what data travels beyond the walls of the store and what data stays onsite—effectively taking care of the mounting privacy and security concerns among retailers, according to AT&T.
“In-building cellular solutions, including 5G and edge computing, are critical drivers of digital transformation for retailers,” Mo Katibeh, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T Business, said in the statement. “These technologies will eventually equip robots with both the compute power and lower latency needed to increase revenue, improve the in-store experience, and elevate employees to better assist customers. Badger Technologies’ robots can help retailers make sure they have products in stock and in the right place, increasing customer satisfaction. That leads to increased revenue. That’s the power of data.”