Japanese Convenience Stores Employ Robots To Address Labor Shortage
By Nicole Rodrigues, 11 Aug 2022
There are new employees at Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart, and they’re not typical hires.
Amid a labor shortage, Japan has turned to artificially-intelligent counterparts to take over the role of literal shop hands. These robotic arms are being stationed in over 300 FamilyMart stores around the country as shelf stockers.
The chain is working with Tokyo-based Telexistence to install the ‘TX SCARA’—Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arms—which will be used to stock drinks and snacks in the stores.
TX SCARA uses Nvidia’s Jetson AI program to process information. It also uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure to record sales data.
Each robot arm can replace one to three hours of human labor per day. The arms are mainly autonomous and have been trained to accomplish repetitive maneuvers. However, it does have remote piloting via virtual headsets as a fallback should anything happen.
FamilyMart is set to pay a monthly allowance to Telexistence for the arms and for the people controlling it.
FamilyMart’s general manager, Tomohiro Kano, also cited a shrinking labor population as a key problem for the company which has forced the general goods store to turn to such measures.
Robots working in places like restaurants are becoming a normalcy, and this could be the start of a new robotic revolution in stores.
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