Big Robots Are Stacking Shelves In Tokyo Supermarket

Single Individual At Same Place Would Operate Robots At Multiple Locations

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Across the world, Japan is the country that has the most amount of older population as compared with other nations, due to which the country is suffering from an acute shortage of labor. As more than one-third of the population of Japan is aged above 65 years, the finding of strong labor workers is proving to be a challenging issue for the government. To counter this increasing issue across the state, tech companies are increasingly manufacturing big robots that would provide as an alternate solution to the shortage of labor workers in Japan. Two of the largest convenience store franchises, Lawson and Family Mart, have also lined their store shelves with big robots to help in everyday lives.

Robots, instead of human labor

The first robot by Lawson has been deployed to help across their convenience store located in Tokyo. The same robot has been used by FamilyMart since last month in the capital city of Japan, stating that all 20 franchise stores across the country will have the facility of using big robots to deal with a manpower shortage in the year 2022.

Telexistance, a Japanese startup firm, has manufactured a robot named Model-T, which is the one deployed by both convenience store franchises. The big robots have a height of seven feet when it is fully extended and has the ability to freely move with attached wheels at the bottom. The android machine has multiple sensors installed to avoid collision with things, along with several cameras and microphones. Both sides of the automaton have three fingers, which can be used to stock the store shelves with multiple products, including canned drinks, bottles, rice bowls, and ramen.

This big robot by Telexistance has the ability to handle objects of different shapes and sizes and fit into diverse locations. This skill and capability diversify this big robot from another android machine that are being used by stores like Walmart, in which a robotic machine scans the inventory of shelves in stores and stacks boxes in warehouses, as they have minimum and limited ability to freely move.

Remote management

The big robot named Model-T has been named after the Ford automobile, is completed controlled remotely by a staff worker in the shop. A Virtual Reality (VR) headset is required along with specially made gloves to sense the feel and texture of the product the robot is handling. Built-in headphones and microphones allow the handler of the big robots to communicate with the surrounding individuals directly.

According to Telexistance, they will not directly sell any of the big robots they had developed, but will provide the required stores free of cost. The exact price is yet to be disclosed, but it is being said that it would be equivalent or cost-competitive with actual human labor. In theory, these big automatons could be wirelessly controlled from any location across the world. During a trial conducted by Telexistance in August at the Family Mart franchise in Tokyo, the big robots were being controlled and operated by an individual while being inside the Telexistance head office, which is located five miles away from the store position.

By having this technical advancement inside the android machine, this would make the job recruitment very easier along with the potential offering of jobs to overseas individuals with low human labor costs. The complete control of the big robots does not require a special skill set to work and could be easily operated by any individual. This technology would allow a single person to work at multiple store locations while being in a single place. The robotic machine helps convenience stores to hire it sometime during the day for stacking on shelves while live humans could be stationed at the cash register.

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