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Convenience Store Family Mart Tests Telepresence Robots

Convenience Store Family Mart Tests Telepresence RobotsThe Japanese convenience store of the near future may be staffed by telepresence robots.

On August 26, Family Mart teamed up with robotics firm Telexistence to test out whether convenience store employees might be able to work from home, manning robots from afar. The idea is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We first reported on this test back in July.

The resulting video shows a man at home operating a robot through VR goggles, stocking drinks in plastic bottles. The robot is called Model-T.

The plan is to have the robots installed in 20 Family Marts by 2022, stocking things like onigiri, sandwiches, bento boxes and drinks.

Watching the video, it’s obvious it’s not nearly as quick as having a real-life human on site, but for convenience stores that aren’t too busy, this telepresence thing could be interesting. An employee could even warp between stores, stocking shelves throughout Japan.

What do you think of this technology—and of how the Model-T robot looks?

Source: IT Media

Matt Schley

Matt Schley (rhymes with "guy") lives in Tokyo, and has been OUSA's "man in Japan" since 2012. He's also written about anime and Japanese film for the Japan Times, Screen Daily and more.