Stories

The robots of Black Friday

Delivery robot
Delivery robot from Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn. Photo: Niels Wenstedt/AFP via Getty Images

Look out for the first of the retail robots as you shop this year.

Why it matters: From machines that can restock shelves to robot deliverers, automation is creeping into the retail industry. The first-ever cargo-carrying robot for consumers comes from Italian company Piaggio. The robot is similar to the delivery bots that FedEx and Amazon have been testing, but it can be yours for a few thousand bucks, AP reports.

Between the lines: On top of the more than 15 million Americans who work in retail year-round, companies routinely hire hundreds of thousands of temporary workers to staff stores and warehouses during big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • The development of more — and smarter — retail robots puts those jobs at risk.

Piaggio is marketing the robot as a seamless way to lug your groceries or shopping bags around a city. But the company will have to find other uses for the bot to make money off of it, analysts tell AP.

  • It's not clear how big the market is for a super-expensive grocery-carrying robot, but the machine could potentially be used to move inventory around in a warehouse or medical supplies in a hospital.

The big picture: This new bot joins dozens of others in the retail industry.

  • Tally, a robot developed by Silicon Valley's Simbe Robotics, is already starting to pop up in store aisles.

Go deeper: A crisis for retail jobs