It’s not quite Amazon Go, a beta grocery store that uses Deep Learning to eliminate human cashiers and checkout lines, but Panasonic is looking to join the retail automation game with a robot that scans and bags your groceries.
Here’s how it will work, reports The Wall Street Journal. Panasonic’s system uses a special shopping basket that detect the items in it and calculates the bill.
Customers then place the basket in a slot, the base of the basket slides away, and the items are placed into a plastic bag. Customers can then pay with cash or a card.
At the moment, Panasonic says customers need to scan each item before placing it in their basket. They hope to automate that process by February 2017 after each in-store item has been outfitted with an electronic tag.
Panasonic is testing the system at a Lawson convenience store in Osaka, Japan.
Amazon Go is an 1,800-square-foot store featuring “Just Walk Out” technology that uses sensors, computer vision, and deep learning to track customers and automatically register which items get picked up. The customers will be charged later via their Amazon account.
Panasonic and Lawson executives claim they don’t want to eliminate human workers from the stores, adding that an Amazon Go-like approach wouldn’t work in Japan since cash is still widely used.
“Our store is also a point of communication for neighbors, where customers can enjoy chatting with clerks,” said Lawson Inc. COO Sadanobu Takemasu.
“We need a good solution also for customers who wouldn’t like a completely digitalized system,” adds Yasuyuki Fukui, a Panasonic business-development executive.