Panasonic has teamed with Lawson food stores in Japan to trial the consumer electronics-maker’s Reji-Robo robotic checkout system, which uses RFID tags to scan items in a shopper’s basket—and then bags them.
Customers at the Osaka, Japan store get a sensor-equipped basket when they walk in, then choose items, scan the barcodes and place them in the “smart basket” at a dedicated checkout counter. The system then settles the transaction, the bottom of the basket opens and the items are placed into a plastic bag.
The Reji-Robo—short for register robots—joins autonomous cashiers at other supermarkets in Japan, but shoppers there still have to bag products themselves post-payment. The system piloted at Lawson is the first to introduce automatic packing.
“If demand is strong enough, we are hoping to come up with ways in which customers will get their purchases settled by just passing through the register,” Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu told The Japan Times.
Even at trial stage, not having to scan and bag products is a boon to labor-savings. Future plans include increased customer convenience and operational productivity by attaching RFID electronic tags to products, instead of barcodes, thus eliminating the need of product scanning.
“By 2018, around 1.3 million industrial robots will be entering service in factories around the world,” projects the International Federation of Robotics. “Viewed on a cross-sector basis, the international market value for robotic systems now lies at around 32 billion US dollars.”
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Lawson and Panasonic have partnered since 2013, addressing health, environment, and information and communications technology. Lawson has introduced the non-CO2 refrigerator/freezer systems to about 1,600 stores using Panasonic’s technology.