Artificial Intelligence: Japanese Store Chain Tests AI-Powered Robot For Restocking Drinks

November 8, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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Japanese store chain Family Mart and Telexistence inaugurate a robot stocker.

It had to happen sometime. The sheer volumes in store products, and the growing number of stores have made manning a nightmare for supermarket chains. The scarcity of trained labor, the high cost of wages and the unpopular working hours have together given impetus to the development of robotic solutions. On November 2, Family Mart and Telexistence installed a new robotic worker at a FamilyMart on the premises of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo. (Japan Today)

Intelligent robot

The robot has been developed by Tokyo-based information technology startup Telexistence. Dubbed the Model-T, it can be seen in action in the video below.

At the FamilyMart, the robot is positioned between the storage shelves and the display shelves and using an AI interface (called Gordon) it is able to detect if a display shelf is empty and needs to be restocked.

It then reaches out to the storage shelf, picks out the required item, and places it in a slot on the display shelf.

Unlike human beings the T-Model does not complain about long working hours and can work 24/7.

The robot is powerful enough to hold a bottle or can weighing as much as 2 Kgs for about 30 seconds.

The robot should provide some relief from chronic labor shortages given that stocking actions take up about 20-30% of a human employee’s workload.

Outlet with unmanned payment system and one employee

In March this year FamilyMart unveiled an outlet with an unmanned payment system and only one human being.

The human worker is responsible for stocking actions mostly.

The store is equipped with about 40 cameras that identify the items picked up by customers.

Later, the shopper need only stand at a designated area to pay an automatically calculated bill.

Related Story: Marty the Robot Hunts for Spills in Supermarket Aisles

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