Tokyo announces 'robot' supermarket (with Chinese technology)

No cashiers: cameras and sensors will identify customers and automatically charge the cost of the purchase. Amazon has already launched "digital" stores: The Japanese Daiei’s shops will be cheaper. No negative impact on national employment.


Tokyo (AsiaNews) - The Daiei supermarket chain will open an unmanned warehouse in the capital, which is cheaper than the existing ones.

Nikkei reports that the store will open this summer in collaboration with the Chinese start up Cloudpick: the Japanese Aeon group, owner of the Daiei chain, wants it to be the first of a series.

In the "digital supermarket" the staff will arrange the products on the shelves, but there will be no cashiers. The structure will be equipped with cameras and sensors that will identify what the buyer takes and then charge the relative cost.

These systems based on artificial intelligence and facial recognition are already used in Amazon.com and Amazon Go stores in China and the US. The peculiarity of Daiei is that it will launch “smart” supermarkets with lower costs than the competition.

Their start-up cost is around 30 million yen per 100 square meters: more or less the cost of opening a traditional shop with staff. However, an Amazon warehouse costs between 150 and 200 million yen per 200 square meters. The Japanese wholesaler aims to save money by using fewer sensors.

To improve the offer, the new Daiei supermarkets will collect data from their customers. They will be helped in this by Cloudpick, which supplies technology to 130 automated stores in 11 countries. The use of robotics and new hi-tech tools is considered necessary to improve the productivity of a given sector.

However, this trend risks reducing the opportunities for human employment. In Japan this does not seem a problem: despite the negative effects of the pandemic, there is an excess of jobs available in the country, a phenomenon largely due to the constant aging of the population.

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