April 22, 2021 at 12:21PM

Walmart will be putting the robots put in place to disperse online orders out to pasture, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) writes.

The machines had been put in over 1,500 stores.

The decision to put the program to rest was made because of the focus on curbside pickup services, which have seen a boost in popularity because of the pandemic. And there has been a broader movement away from the use of automation in highly visible scenarios in stores. Walmart has spent the past year working on taking out or turning off the 17-foot-tall machines, which had often been put at the front of stores.

There are around 300 machines being taken out of the stores and 1,300 put to sleep.

A Walmart spokesperson said the decision had ultimately come down to the customer.

“The customer told us they want one pickup spot, and they want that pickup spot to be outside,” the spokesperson said, according to the WSJ.

The pickup towers had acted as a vending machine for online orders and held them until they were ready to be picked up. The company was known to point to them in presentations for the media in the past few years.

The company also put an end to use of the aisle-roving inventory tracking robots which had been made by Bossa Nova Robotics, following the discovery that humans could get similar results.

The pandemic made the practices of online grocery curbside pickup and home delivery more essential, and Walmart had already been working on both. The company has been working in recent months on expanding availability of those services and making more non-grocery products available for them, WSJ writes.

PYMNTS reported last November on Walmart’s shift to using human workers rather than robots, noting that the company had massively shifted gears from an earlier plan to triple its fleet of robot workers.

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