Japanese Family Mart Convenience Stores Testing Robots

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces around the world are changing. They often have to stay open with limited staff and budget. Whether they are small businesses or national chains, many are looking to tech to help fill the gap. To help maximize efficiency, Japan’s 2nd largest convenience store chain is turning to robots.

Family Mart will be testing a new robot to help supercharge service at it stores. The kangaroo looking robot comes from Tokyo based startup Telexistence and will begin a pilot program in August. The unique design is meant to make shoppers feel at ease as robots that look too human can make people uncomfortable. It will be doing things like tacking sandwiches, drinks and ready meals on shelves at one of the company’s convenience stores in the Tokyo area.

Family Mart Robot Tokyo Telexistence - YellRobot
image credit: Reuters

Family Mart to Have Robots in Tokyo stores by 2022

After the trial, Family Mart plans to have robot workers in at least 20 stores around Tokyo by 2022. At first, people will operate them remotely – until the machines’ AI can learn to mimic human movements. Human operators can be stationed anywhere and could include people who would not normally work in stores. Currently, researchers are using virtual reality goggles and motion-sensor controls to train the machines to allow them to eventually be fully autonomous.

Telexistence isn’t just content with seeing their robots in convenience stores. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hotels, restaurants and even gas and oil companies have contacted the company. 

Source and image credit: Reuters

Check out our articles on robots distributing masks and sanitizers in India and CVS offering autonomous delivery in Houston.