Retail Technology  

Robot could make retail assistants redundant

Shop assistants could soon be a thing of the past, following the invention of AndyVision
 AndyVision, hard at work

Carnegie Mellon has manufactured a retail robot as the androids begin the dreaded takeover.

Of course, this takeover is, among other things, limited (not to mention unlikely), but from a technological standpoint, AndyVision certainly represents huge steps forward in taking the load of staff members, in terms of remedial tasks.

Whether the trend kicks off in earnest depends on the evaluated success of AndyVision, but it seems, at first look, that the lure of seeing the hooded robot roaming the stores is enough to bring in customers alone.

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Created at the Intel Science and Technology Center in Embedded Computing at Carnegie Mellon University, AndyVision is currently being given a run out at the campus store, where it is overseeing tasks such as inventory and assessing store layouts.

The robot works via a Kinect sensor, alongside image-processing and machine-learning algorithms. AndyVision can be instilled with 3D and 2D images of the specific store’s layout and individual products, from which it can go about its daily work.

Roaming the stores, searching high and low, AndyVision can keep a close digital eye on the products sold, whether they are on the right shelf and the items that are low on stock. This information is then relayed back to the more traditional human employees who receive the data on their iPads. 

The same information collated by the robot also feeds to a large interactive touchscreen available to all customers so that they can do their shopping digitally, courtesy of AndyVision’s research.

The little ET-resembling machine ingratiates itself seamlessly in stylish hoodies, and has endeared itself immediately to the students at Carnegie Mellon. However, its future strongly depends on the business and sales results collected later this year by the store.

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