Here Come the Robot Shopping Carts

Walmart and Five Elements Robotics are building the Dash robot shopping cart that can map your route through Walmart, check you out, and carry everything to your car.

Walmart and Five Elements Robotics are developing the Dash robot shopping cart that will follow customers around stores, help them find items on their shopping list, and carry items out to their car.

Now Five Elements already makes Budgee, a robot assistant that can carry up to 50 pounds at a top speed of 2.4 MPH by following an electronic transmitter you’d carry or by using an app to set the distance at which Budgee should follow you. But Dash isn’t a simple upgraded version of Budgee, it appears to be much more.

The biggest difference is that you wouldn’t own Dash, saving yourself the $1,400 you’d have to pony up for Budgee. Dash will map out the most effective route through the store and lead you to what you want to buy, while Budgee simply follows you around.

Five Elements said customers can transfer a shopping list from their phone or create one directly on Dash. The robot shopping cart will even scan each item and check you out using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

Dash learns your buying habits and, sadly, will display targeted ads on your cart’s display. Ads would be annoying, even if this makes the shopping experience more efficient. But perhaps best of all, Dash will even return itself to a docking station, so now more having to return the cart yourself after a long trip to the store.

At first glance it appears Dash has a single medium-range LIDAR system, a 3D camera, and some ultrasonic sensors. So we’ll have to wait and see how the robot shopping cart will ultimately be able to navigate a crowded grocery store. Dash is scheduled to enter production in early 2017.

Coincidentally, Aidan McCann, a 13-year-old boy from Scotland, developed a “robotic shopping trolley” for his 73-year-old grandmother who has difficulty shopping because she stands just 4 feet, 11 inches tall. McCann’s trolley can change heights with a flip of a switch so elderly people don’t have to lift their bags very far. And an adjustable flap at the front of the basket and rolls at it’s base enable the shopping to be easily pushed out of the cart.

McCann’s design caught the eye of the judges at the Scottish Engineering Special Leaders Award in 2015, which named him the winner.


[Via:] IEEE Spectrum

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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