Technology and efficiency are definitely two things you’ll encounter in abundance when you visit Japan’s modern cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Now, FamilyMart one of Japan’s biggest chains of convenience stores (aka “konbini”) is aiming to increase its efficiency by adding robots to its staff.
Created by robotics company Telexistence, the humanoid robots will be used to help stock store shelves. However, these robots aren’t autonomous, they’re designed to be operated remotely by a human wearing a virtual reality headset and special controller gloves.
At first I thought this was a strange idea, because it still requires a human, but then I realized that the remote operator could be sitting at a desk at home or in a corporate office, and stock shelves at multiple locations without having to travel between them. That could definitely make things more efficient and less costly, assuming everything works properly.
FamilyMart plans on testing out some of the robots in Tokyo this summer, and then rolling them out to 20 stores or more by 2022. I wonder if and when we’ll get to the point where convenience store clerks are replaced by robots.