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Autonomous Carts Make the Easiest Part of Shopping Even Easier

The best part of grocery shopping isn't finding some exotic new flavor of yogurt or the free samples, it's tooling around the store like a rally car driver with your shopping cart. So why have researchers developed an autonomous human-tracking cart that follows you around the store? Seems like time better spent making checkout lanes less terrible.

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That being said, it's hard not to get excited about a shopping cart that uses a Kinect and various other sensors to stay a few feet behind you as you wander through a store. Developed by students at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, it unfortunately doesn't look like the cart is smart enough to catch items that you've randomly tossed in the air as you meander down a store aisle, but surely that feature is still in development.

However, as wonderful as these technologically-enhanced carts might seem, there's no way grocery stores are going to loan them out to shoppers for just a quarter. So they might end up being a BYO affair. [YouTube via Damn Geeky]

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DISCUSSION

oh man, you guys have no idea how much money grocery stores spend on shit like this. Ever been to a Krogers or Kroger owned store? The answer is probably yes, they own like 60% of the stores. Ever noticed those monitors with three big yellow circles mounted above the front desks?

Each of those circles indicates (in left to right) checkstands open, how many should be open and how many need to be open in 30 minutes. It figures this out by tracking the heat signatures of shoppers. During a 10 week training period, the system sorts out shopping habits and the general flow of the store, allowing it to make startlingly accurate predictions.

Of course, they'd rather drop 10k per store than replace the Windows ME powered checkstands or get checkstand keyboards that aren't from 1998, which are complex, unresponsive, require a lengthy update time, panic at the sight of water and have such a sharp learning curve that if you get a cashier in training when you checkout, you are guaranteed a significantly longer checkout holy run on sentence batman.