Amazon Employees Use Pikachu to Test Automated Grocery Store, Which Is a Weird Thing to Do



Image: Amazon / Gizmodo

Amazon remains to be struggling to get its automated grocery retailer, Amazon Go, to operate proper. Who knew it will be so exhausting to construct a brick-and-mortar retailer with sensors and devices as an alternative of cashiers? But in a latest check of the corporate’s experimental Seattle retailer, a few of Jeff Bezos’ staff acquired a little bit bizarre. They dressed up in Pikachu costumes to buy groceries.

This weird element appeared in a brand new Bloomberg report in regards to the progress of Amazon Go. The stunt not solely sounds ridiculous, it additionally sounds deceptive:

Employees have tried to idiot the expertise. One day, three enterprising Amazonians donned vivid yellow Pikachu costumes and cruised round grabbing sandwiches, drinks and snacks. The algorithms nailed it, in keeping with an individual accustomed to the scenario, appropriately figuring out the staff and charging their Amazon accounts, though they had been obscured behind yellow polyester.

So the ridiculous half is straightforward to identify. Amazon staff gown up as characters from an outdated Game Boy sport and individuals who learn in regards to the experiment would possibly badume that magical sensors one way or the other noticed the people beneath their costumes. It’s a whimsical story to make sure.

Now for the deceptive half. We really know from earlier reviews and Amazon’s personal promotional video that prospects scan their smartphones upon coming into the shop. We can solely badume that Amazon Go makes use of some form of beacon expertise to trace the place prospects’ by way of their smartphones as they wander the shop and cease to gather gadgets. Amazon hasn’t revealed precisely how the system works, however the Amazon Go promotional video options phrases like “COMPUTER VISION” and “DEEP LEARNING ALGORITHMS” and “SENSOR FUSION.”

But regardless of the success of the Pokémon experiment, the shop nonetheless has points with the extra existential questions of grocery buying which might be sometimes resolved by a human cashier. Bloomberg goes on to report:

The system is working effectively for particular person buyers however nonetheless struggles to precisely cost people who find themselves shifting round in teams, resembling households with grabby children, the individual says. Go engineers have been finding out households buying collectively and are tweaking their sensors to acknowledge when a toddler eats an merchandise whereas wandering across the retailer. Engineers are additionally determining which individual to cost when a pair goes buying collectively. Amazon has inspired staff to enter the shop in pairs and purchase lunch.

Does the system get confused when two or extra smartphones are shut to one another within the retailer? And with no checkout line, who pays for gadgets picked up by (typically non-adult) members of a bunch? It feels like Amazon’s DEEP LEARNING ALGORITHMS aren’t certain.

We’re nonetheless ready for Amazon Go to turn into a actuality after The Wall Street Journal reported that its deliberate public launch in March was being delayed on account of bugs, and hey, what a futuristic actuality it will be. Some speculate that Amazon desires to put in this expertise in Whole Foods shops, which might actually jazz up the premium grocery buying expertise. Until we see the Amazon Go system deployed in an precise retailer with precise prospects (learn: not Amazon staff dressed up as Pokémon characters), the entire thing stays an experiment.

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