Walmart to add robot janitors

Walmart plans to add more than 300 robot janitors to clean up stores nationwide, according to a new joint statement with San Diego-based Brain Corp, the company behind artificial intelligence platform BrainOS.

A total 360 BrainOS-powered machines, which feature "autonomous navigation and data collection capabilities," are expected in stores by the end of its fiscal year, Jan. 31, 2019.

The machines will be used to scrub floors with the press of a button. Similar robots have also been deployed for clean-up at airports in Seattle, San Diego, Boston and Miami, Brain Chief Executive Officer Eugene Izhikevich told Bloomberg.

"We're excited to work with Brain Corp in supporting our retail operations and providing our associates with a safe and reliable technology," said John Crecelius, Walmart's VP of Central Operations. "BrainOS is a powerful tool in helping our associates complete repetitive tasks so they can focus on other tasks within role and spend more time serving customers."

According to Bloomberg, the world's largest retailer has been experimenting with automation in recent months via shelf scans and storage hauling. Brain's robots are another way Walmart plans to "gather and upload data" on consumer behavior.

"We can take anything that has wheels and turn it into a fully autonomous robot, provided that it can go slow and stopping is never a safety concern," Izhikevich said. "And it's more than just navigation. It is to robots what Android operating system is to smartphones."

Beef recall expands over salmonella fears

An Arizona company is expanding the scope of its recall of raw beef that could be contaminated with salmonella, federal officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said a unit of Brazil's JBS is now recalling a total of more than 12 million pounds of raw beef that was shipped around the U.S. According to officials, information obtained in three additional cases of sickened patients led to the identification of other ground beef products that weren't part of the initial recall.

JBS Tolleson in Arizona already recalled about 7 million pounds (3 million kilograms) of beef in October. Health officials say all the products up for recall have the USDA inspection number "EST. 267."

"While no products in this expansion have been definitively linked to any illness, we have determined in consultation with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) that this action is in the best interests of public health," JBS said in a statement Monday.

The products were packaged between late July and September. The USDA says all the potentially tainted products have been removed from retailer stores. But the agency says people still may have products in their freezers that should be thrown away.

There were 246 illnesses reported from 25 states as of mid-November, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While 59 people have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported.

The USDA says salmonella is prevalent in raw poultry and meat and is reminding people to properly cook and handle meat. It says cooking kills salmonella.

Advanced Plating Inc. expands in Tennessee

Advanced Plating, Inc. will expand its Middle Tennessee operations by locating a new facility in Portland, Tennessee.

The electroplating manufacturer said Tuesday it will create 200 jobs and invest approximately $4 million in Sumner County.

"The planned facility represents an initial investment of over $5 million in the Portland community and will house two electroplating production lines as well as a commercial polishing shop, allowing us to meet the growing demand from our aftermarket automotive, architectural and music industry customers," Advanced Plating Vice President of Operations Colin Gabhart said.

Advanced Plating provides electroplating services for the automotive, architectural fixtures and musical instrument industries. The company specializes in turnkey components as well as surface finishing technologies including polishing, anodizing, powder coating, chrome, nickel, gold and other plating finishes. Established in 1962, Advanced Plating is the largest automotive restoration plating company in the world and the largest manufacturer of OEM electric guitar components in the U.S.

Mail changes to cut deficit

A task force created by President Donald Trump to evaluate ways to stem billions of dollars in losses at the U.S. Postal Service is suggesting a range of options, including proposals that could significantly boost the cost of sending non-essential mail.

The report recommended that the Postal Service develop a new pricing model that would remove current price caps and charge market-based prices for both mail and packages that were not deemed to be "essential postal services."

That recommendation could raise costs for Amazon and other major businesses that are currently using the Postal Service to supplement their delivery operations.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that the report "contains achievable recommendations."