In recent decades, robots have completely transformed certain industries. From robot-assisted surgery, to assembly lines of robotic arms assembling automobiles faster and more efficiently than human workers, the revolution has impacted these industries for better or for worse. And now the average retail store may be the next ground zero for the robotic uprising?
The little robot that could make a huge impact on the retail industry is called the AndyVision. The AndyVision was created by a design team at Carnegie Mellon University and is designed to perform any number of common tasks normally in the purview of a retail clerk.
First, the robot is a master of inventory. Programmed with complex algorithms, the robot is designed to be an improvement over even the most modern inventory control systems. Armed with a series of proximity sensors and programmed with a map of the store, the AndyVision robot has been patrolling the Carnegie Mellon bookstore for two months.
The robot is constantly roaming the aisles, performing detailed inventory checks and updating the information in the store database, sending out alerts if stock is low or items are misplaced. Customers can access the robot’s data through a touchscreen, learning where items are located with just a few touches.
The AndyVision processes a number of types of data, from barcodes to text to product images. It can figure out what items belong together on the shelves, so when customers drop something in the wrong location, it can figure out the error and rectify the situation.
Recently, the team showed off the robot at Intel Research Labs event in San Francisco. Retail workers don’t yet have to worry about AndyVision stealing jobs, but its ability to track inventory and help customers – most likely without a condescending attitude – will certainly make it a boon to store managers in the near future.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey