Carriers are just beginning to roll out 5G, but the technology already is seen as a way to provide better internal Wi-Fi that could support interesting retail applications using robots. Badger Technologies, a product division of Jabil, is working with AT&T to test 5G wireless connectivity with its autonomous retail robots.

Badger Technologies’ robots identify out-of-stock, mispriced or misplaced inventory as well as store hazards, enabling retailers to improve operational efficiencies. While advanced mobile data systems can fill major gaps in the collection and sharing of vital in-store data and images, they also can tax a store’s existing Wi-Fi network.

To try to answer this challenge, the AT&T Foundry is testing 5G connectivity with Badger Technologies’ robots in a multi-access edge computing (MEC) environment and using millimeter wave spectrum. The goal is to provide Badger Technologies and retailers with the lower latency and high throughput required to process and share vast amounts of data while running concurrently with other in-store network applications.

“5G is an important next step to helping ensure shared visibility across critical inventory, POS and operational systems,” said Tim Rowland, CEO of Badger Technologies, in a prepared 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.”

“In-building cellular solutions, including 5G and edge computing, are critical drivers of digital transformation for retailers,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business, in a prepared 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.”

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