Photo: Family Mart
tech

Japanese convenience store chain begins testing remote controlled robot staff in Tokyo

13 Comments
By SoraNews24

For years now the convenience store industry in Japan has been facing a labor crisis. Rapid expansion and demanding conditions have made it hard to find sufficient staff and help wanted posters have become permanent fixtures on many locations of chains such as Lawson, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart.

In response, the chains have been looking to technology for help. Lawson is currently testing self-payment systems and Family Mart has enlisted the help of Model-T.

Designed by Japanese robotics firm Telexistence, Model-T is remote controlled by a human equipped with a VR set using their “Augmented Workforce Platform.” In the following trial video, a young man pilots a Model-T in Tokyo’s Tshima Ward while he himself is sitting in the Telexistence office eight kilometers away in Minato Ward.

In this demonstration, the Model-T is stocking drinks which would normally require at least two workers on site so that one person could watch the counter. In this way, however, a single robot operator could keep the drinks stocked at several locations throughout the day while the in-house staff focus on the customers.

The response online was generally welcoming as well, with many hoping to see a cat-bot working in a conbini near them soon.

“I would love to see a remote-controlled robot working at a convenience store!”

“Why do they have it working in the back? I want to see it.”

“The speeds seems to be a problem. I wonder if it’s really more cost-effective than humans.”

“Convenience stores can’t seem to hire anyone these days, so this will almost certainly happen.”

“I tried going to Toshima to check it out but I couldn’t see past the drinks.”

“They should make the robots look like Famichiki Senpai.”

“This is amazing. I would love to have a robot go out and do all my stuff for me.”

“They should set it up so that people can get items for games by working at Family Mart.”

“Why does it look like the grandpa in Tekken?”

This project is also in-line with the Japanese government’s moonshot initiative to have most labor converted to robot avatars that can be piloted by people of all ages and physical limitations by 2050.

In the meantime, by the year 2022, Family Mart plans to have Model-Ts in up to 20 locations as the speed and accuracy of the system is improved, and from there gradually roll them out to all stores.

Sources: Telexistence, FamilyMart, Impress Watch, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Remote-control VR robots to start working in Japanese convenience stores this summer

-- ANA unveils robot avatar shopper at boutique in Oita

-- Which convenience store has the best kakuni Japanese braised pork? We find out【Taste test】

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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It still requires an employee to run it. How does it address the "labor shortage"?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Why would a robot wear a mask? This thing is repulsive, btw. Real people, real jobs much preferred.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

At the moment perhaps such technology has some uses for space, military and medical research or in risk zones but definetely not in a work place where work needs to be done quickly.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Oh come on now. I couldn't have had that shelve stocked in seconds.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If I see that robo-demonic monstrosity I will not go in.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Usually staff are forced to work closely and the only escape from spending 8hrs a day with a loser is the old “I don’t my stocking the shelves and emptying the rubbish”. Damn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is more urgent to use this robots to recover once and for all the spared Nuclear Roots in Fukushima Genpatsu.

Put a radiation suit on it and deploy it where is really needed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Agree. 9 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Robot is fired! Way too slow.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It still requires an employee to run it. How does it address the "labor shortage"?

The answer is rather simple. Say you have 10 stores that need to be restocked. By using an inventory control system , the shelves are stock at the same time of the day. By using 10 robots and one human, all 10 stores are restock at the same time. Currently you would need 10 humans to restock the shelves.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Orac Today | 03:17 pm JST: "The answer is rather simple..."

Good response! Excellent answer!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

and as soon as that one person does it enough times they will not need the human to do it any more, what then?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The robot designers need to team up with the several Japanese sex doll manufacturers. They'd be dressed of course, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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