Shopping Product Reviews

Retail robots for straightening shelves Coming soon to a supermarket or convenience store near you

The other day, I was talking to a cashier at Albertson’s grocery store, she had been with the company 24 years and was still worried about getting fired. As she was a lady, she scored her; “Those self-checkout machines over there, very soon there will be fewer lines with human tellers and more lines with just kiosks.”

In fact, he’s right about that, and eventually every item will have an RFID tag, and you just run your shopping cart through a scanning machine, and it’ll get a total, and it’ll scan your iPad or Android for checkout. Of course, this isn’t the only technology set to shake up the grocery store retail scene. In fact, I’d like to discuss this with you for a moment if you’ll allow me.

There was an interesting article in Accelerating Intelligence on June 20, 2012 titled; “Have ‘awesome’ robots fix your room for you,” by Amara D. Angelica, which featured a YouTube video also of a robot fixing a room, which she had never seen before. She recognized plates, empty containers, and restocked a fridge: a very good case study in the future of AI-enabled home robotics. She took a disorganized room and put everything back in her place using her algorithmic strategies.

Last month, I was at a Trader Joes watching the staff flip all the products on the front-facing shelves and arrange everything in perfect rows. Hey, the robot in that article and video could do that, and can do it better than a human, faster, and never get tired, call in sick, or go on strike, with no benefits, raises, or problems. Think about it, you are sitting at Starbucks and a robot is busy sweeping the floor, wiping down the window frames, wiping down the tables and putting the chairs back in perfect order. They can also mop the floor and clean up the occasional Venti Frappachino spill.

Every item Starbucks sells on display will be in perfect rows, every cup of American-made coffee and every pastry. Everything will look perfect every time, because that is the job of the robot and it will never stop. He will be going to the lobby every 5 minutes cleaning the perfect place. Yeah, that’s the future, and I guess it’ll take someone’s job, but probably in the future you’ll do a better job than a human could, even if they wanted to too, or weren’t busy texting their friends. instead of working – oh, humans would never do such a thing you say, yeah right! In fact, I hope you will please consider all this and think about it.

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