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Amazon May Open Up To Six More Automated Stores This Year (engadget.com) 82

Amazon may have opened its automated convenience store a year late, but it looks like it's been a pretty big success. From a report: Recode learned that the company plans on opening six more of its Amazon Go stores in 2018. It's not clear where these stores will be located, though Recode reports that more locations are likely in Seattle, and Amazon is in talks with the developer of The Grove in Los Angeles. Amazon Go is billed as the convenience store of the future. There are no checkout lines; you can simply walk in, grab what you want, and leave. You scan in with a smartphone app, and then an AI tracks what you take from the shelves and automatically charges you for them.
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Amazon May Open Up To Six More Automated Stores This Year

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  • Wow, AI tracks what you take and automatically charges you? The advances in AI are incredible! Hopefully it records the purchase in a blockchain ledger too. That would be TOO COOL.
    • by Revek ( 133289 )

      Its all fun and games until they pwn the store.

      • It's all fun and games until you go in there to buy a can of soft drink, can't find the one you want, and on your way out the system mistakenly charges you for twelve large cucumbers, a packet of condoms and an extra large bottle of Crisco.. and you can't find the tame store human to sort it out.

        And THEN you're cornered by a drone shaped like a Dalek equipped with a taser, and the drone growls in an ED-209 voice, "Put down the, $tables_Xref, you have $timer_what_the_hell_fill_this_in_later_dude_its_never_go

    • Re:AI (Score:4, Interesting)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @01:16PM (#56170061)

      Wow, AI tracks what you take and automatically charges you? The advances in AI are incredible! Hopefully it records the purchase in a blockchain ledger too. That would be TOO COOL.

      We can mock this technology all we want, but two facts remain; it works, and it's likely a HELL of a lot cheaper than the traditional method of purchasing and managing cashiers, baggers, and cash register hardware.

      You should expect this kind of store concept to become infectious, and not just with Amazon Would a grocery chain be willing to license this Amazon solution if it proves to be 30% cheaper than the traditional method of transaction management? You bet your ass they would, and Amazon would be stupid not to oblige.

      Cashiers make up over 3 million jobs in the US. Let's see how well we manage unemployment in 10 years, along with managing the unemployable.

      • Yeah, for example what if CVS stores could replace all their cashiers with self-checkout stations, and just have one employee overseeing the store? CVS has been doing that over five years now. I guess they are a leader in "AI". Amazing tech!
      • Cashiers make up over 3 million jobs in the US. Let's see how well we manage unemployment in 10 years, along with managing the unemployable.

        Well, if we can turn off the mass, continual influx of illegal immigrants, we will need US citizens to pick the fruit, etc....

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          We already [theguardian.com] need US citizens to pick the fruit. They don't want to. Expect fruit prices to rise as either fruit goes unpicked or picker wages increase (or both).

          • Expect fruit prices to rise as either fruit goes unpicked or picker wages increase (or both).

            I really don't have a problem with prices going up a bit.

            And frankly, why aren't the unemployment offices routing people qualified to pick fruit to the farms needing fruit pickers, rather than just handing out benefits while they sit at home?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Because most people on assistance can't afford to move and the jobs are extremely short lived.

      • .. and cash register hardware

        Right, because the cutting-edge equipment needed to run a fully automated retail establishment is so much cheaper than ubiquitous, tried-and-true tech like fucking cash registers.

        • .. and cash register hardware

          Right, because the cutting-edge equipment needed to run a fully automated retail establishment is so much cheaper than ubiquitous, tried-and-true tech like fucking cash registers.

          Uh, yes it likely is, considering they can operate 24x7x365, and won't get sick, show up late, need vacations, lie, steal, create sexual harassment lawsuits, need medical and dental insurance, etc. You seem to forget all the tried-and-true burdens of those fucking humans you'll need to hire to operate those fucking cash registers.

          And automated solutions will be far from "cutting-edge" 3-5 years from now.

  • Traditional retail stores of all types have a certain percentage of merchandise that gets shoplifted, they all just factor that into expected profit and loss.

    But in this kind of store, it's literally impossible to shoplift because there are so many cameras monitoring product - the loss from AI not realizing you had picked up something is probably substantially smaller than shoplifting.

    All you need to do is make sure people really scan in before they enter... was not sure how that aspect worked.

    • True. It is impossible to shoplift when cameras are present.
      • True. It is impossible to shoplift when cameras are present.

        It is when every item is in clear view of multiple cameras. The system knows you went by an area and that items are no longer there. It doesn't matter if it saw you take it specifically.

        Your semi-humorous sarcastic comment is usually accurate because traditional cameras (A) do not fully cover a store, and (B) are not fully monitored as to actions seen. A camera may record theft but if no-one is watching the person gets away despite the camera.

        • You do realize that the cameras aren't recognizing "this guy is stealing", right? It is just a system like CVS has had for years, but hooked to a smartphone app. Do you think these are "AI cameras"?
          • You do realize that the cameras aren't recognizing "this guy is stealing", right?

            How is it theft if that person is charged for any item they take from the store? You seem to not understand fundamental aspects of what Amazon is doing.

            You literally cannot steal if you are always charged for items taken (or consumed to address another idiotic point).

            It is just a system like CVS has had for years, but hooked to a smartphone app.

            It is nothing like that whatsoever, in any aspect. Do you honestly not realize th

            • You are a fucking moron.

              People will enter the stores WITHOUT cell phones, accounts, or other means of charging them or tracking their identity.
              People will remove items from the shelves in ways that CANNOT be tracked by the sensors.

              And if you can't imagine how either of the above can be done, people will smash windows and raid the whole fucking place because they can.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

              • by gnick ( 1211984 )

                People will enter the stores WITHOUT cell phones, accounts, or other means of charging them or tracking their identity.

                If only there was a way to control who enters... If we can solve that problem, we can start charging people to ride the subway too.

                ...people will smash windows and raid the whole fucking place because they can.

                Which is why every store is robbed every night when there's nobody there.

              • People will enter the stores WITHOUT cell phones, accounts, or other means of charging them or tracking their identity.

                In the existing stores that would mean hopping a turnstile while also avoiding a guard monitoring the turnstiles. A lot more at stake than just entering the traditional store and leaving with an item in the coat.

                People will remove items from the shelves in ways that CANNOT be tracked by the sensors.

                How does that work exactly? How do you remove an item without being tracked when there are

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            It is just a system like CVS has had for years, but hooked to a smartphone app.

            Wait, do you understand how this actually works? It's not self-checkout, and there are no RFIDs or anything like that.. The cameras really do follow your every move, and you get charged for whatever you take out of the store. I have some friends who were in on the beta, and they played all kinds of games with it - picking stuff out, carrying it around, putting it back, taking it again later, all that sort of stuff. It was remarkably accurate.

            It's not obvious how you'd shoplift, beyond simply not scannin

    • You also need to handle:
      - people that put the product back on the shelve
      - people that put the product back on the WRONG shelve (by laziness or mistake)
      - people that pick up this wrongly placed product and complain its price doesn't match the one on the shelves
      - people that try to cheat system by putting something similar to the product on the shelve

      and probably a million other strange cases. Maybe amazon will suceed where others failed, but I wouldnt hold my breath.

      • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @01:08PM (#56170027) Homepage Journal
        Maybe they could invent something like a sticker to put on the product that used radio frequencies to communicate with a system to track stuff. With AI.
        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The whole point is they're not suing RFID stickers - those suckers aren't cheap. They're using cameras (and some other sensors in the shelves), with facial recognition and some sort of recognition of how much you take off the shelf.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @01:12PM (#56170039)
        - people who pee on the floor
        - people who open packages and use the product right there in the store
        - kids grabbing things off the shelves

        There are about a bajillion things that could happen in a store that none of this silliness has accounted for. We are decades away from having employee-less retail stores. This is just a dumb PR stunt to keep the dumb Amazon customers drooling.
        • people who pee on the floor

          If they have stockers would they not have janitors for inevitable breakage??? Gee, I wonder what ELSE they could clean???

          people who open packages and use the product right there in the store

          Go right ahead, as soon as you do you just bought it. Why is this any different a problem from today, except this system can actually recognize and charge these people on the spot????

          kids grabbing things off the shelves

          Wow it is like SO VERY HARD to tell if someone entered the store with some

      • Look up articles on the store. The AI already handles ALL of those cases except for price confusion.

        You can verify the prices of all items as you pick them up, or put them back if you think it's wrong. I think they price items individually, not on the shelves below, so I can't see where you could get very confused...

        • You can verify the prices of items? AND put them back? Geez, I love living in the future!
          • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @01:42PM (#56170195)

            Yes AND leave the store without having to interact with a cashier or use a badly designed self-checkout station that takes two minutes to properly classify the bananas you bought.

            Such a shame small-minded people like yourself cannot imagine even the simplest of improvements this will bring, you can practically see the vibrations from the gears in your head attempting to turn but failing.

            • by DogDude ( 805747 )
              without having to interact with a cashier

              I hope you're getting some professional help. It sounds like you've got some sort of anti-social disorder. Most people wouldn't consider not having to interact with a cashier as a positive.
              • Most people wouldn't consider not having to interact with a cashier as a positive.

                First of all, Wow on that collection of negatives and positives.

                Secondly, when you go to any store that features self-checkout is it usually busy or not?

                "Most people would not", indeed. I guess you enjoy waiting in lines and inane conversation and implicit judgement of every item you buy.

                • by DogDude ( 805747 )
                  Best of luck. I hope you get some help.
                  • I hope you get some help.

                    Says the man whose first thought on thinking of an automated store is "what if I choose to pee on the floor".

                    I guess there's a pretty good reason you choose your handle to be DogDude.

                    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
                      I've spent the past few decades in retail. People are gross and will do unimaginable things.
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      First of all, I don't think there's much "AI" going on in those stores. As far as I know it's more of a combination of pressure sensors and Amazon's own QR code like hieroglyphs read by the cameras. The image recognition is mostly there to track the buyers, not the products. Which is the real reason why these stores can work: you have to authenticate yourself each time you enter a store, which means that if you keep shoplifting it's not going to be hard for Amazon to connect the dots and realize how a suspi

      • Finally, someone who has actually done some reading and understand how the stores work.

        Now shoplifting alone isn't a very serious offence, but because of the authentication

        Here's the thing; in this system there is no shoplifting. Because to the system, all intent of taking a product is gone - it has been reduced to the system itself realizing someone has taken a product and charging them.

        There is no difference to the system between someone picking up an item with an intent to steal, or an intent the purchas

        • self checkout makes it hard to Prosecute shoplifting as someone can say did not scan right.

          • self checkout makes it hard to Prosecute shoplifting as someone can say did not scan right.

            There is no scanning anything in the Amazon store, you scan YOURSELF to allow entry, that is it. You pick up what you want and leave the store, that is it.

            So like I said shoplifting as we know it is not possible with this store because the point is that you are supposed to just pick up items and go. A failure to charge is on the system, not you. Even if you get out without paying for something that literally cannot

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              So like I said shoplifting as we know it is not possible

              I wouldn't quite go that far. It's going to take someone pretty clever to manage it, but we live in a world where people can open a slot machine, replace the ROM, and close it again in the couple of seconds before the alarm sounds. Still, as long as the effort to shoplift something is higher than just getting a job, I'd guess the problem will be minimal.

    • No, it would be very easy to shoplift. Ever heard of flash mobs and balaclavas? Happen even in human-run stores with cameras like 7/11.

      In and out before the automated system has a chance to contact the cops.

      • In and out before the automated system has a chance to contact the cops.

        How did they enter the store again? You have to use the application and your Amazon login to enter the store. I hope the poor sap who let the mob in enjoyed everything they took being charged to his account. From Amazon's standpoint, a flash mob entering the store and not being charged is a system flaw, not shoplifting.

        Ok, the mob could smash the window and go in that way. But at that point you are not "shoplifting" you are "looting

        • Walk in through the exit, jump the gates or push in through an open gate as someone is walking out. How do people enter the subway without scanning their fare card? Same way.
          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            They do have a security guard. They'll probably always have to, for just those reasons.

    • But in this kind of store, it's literally impossible to shoplift because there are so many cameras monitoring product

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      If Amazon opens one of these stores up in an urban area, it will be hit on a regular basis.
      If Amazon ever truly makes these stores unmanned (the current test store has staff crawling all over), they won't even be able to get anyone on robbery charges, as robbery requires a human victim. They'd only ever be able to chase down lesser charges like theft and destruction of property.

      • If Amazon opens one of these stores up in an urban area, it will be hit on a regular basis.

        If they choose to open it in a more questionable area populated by a bunch of Slashdot reading crime-minded scum, they could simply have greater control over access.

        The existing store has turnstiles and staff monitoring entry to turn back people without accounts, but it's not hard to imagine something like a revolving door that will not move until you have logged in, with an armed guard on the other side as backup for

        • Except hiring guards instead of cashiers is more expensive and defeats the entire purpose of having an unmanned store. And it won't prevent theft.

          • Except hiring guards instead of cashiers

            I am pretty sure hiring one guard is a lot less expensive than three or four checkout personnel. There is a lot of per-person employment overhead in terns of paperwork and taxes.

            defeats the entire purpose of having an unmanned store.

            Incorrect, since the PRIMARY purpose is to make the store more convenient for the shopper, meaning more repeat business. It's not about eliminating people, the whole store concept is around how they can make shopping easier and better f

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday February 22, 2018 @12:55PM (#56169949) Homepage

    It's not clear where these stores will be located

    Hint: You wont find them in Inglewood. These stores will show up some place with a lot of upper middle class white people who dont mind paying more to avoid the usual drolls of a convenience store. homeless beggars arent slumped against the side of the building, and there isnt a stench of fetid trash from the parking lot.

    convenience store of the future

    Ive been to a go store. theres about a 30-40% markup from what you might find at a CVS or 7 eleven. they dont take cash , they dont sell fresh fruit, and everything is armoured in plastic wrap and polystyrene to ensure it gets a good barcode or nfc sensor. Its the future, if the future came with a "no poor people" label. Security stands at the ready by the door and many items are out of stock.
    Go is a branded lifestyle experience, not a convenience store.

  • Didn't this store just open a few weeks ago? Check back in a year before calling it a "big success". While it may turn out to be one, right now it's just a curiosity.

  • I'm not paying $2 to Amazon for "raw water" no matter how much you make it look "tech".

  • Don't they have strain gauges on the shelves too?

    How about people swapping for empty containers? (With dirt or water in it for weight.)

    Excuse me, I can't reach that, could you pass it to me?

    • *Holds fake box of Rice-O-Roni stuffed with dirt*
      *Looks at real box of Rice-O-Roni on shelf, rubs chin, adds a half-handful of dirt to fake box*
      *Three more cameras swivel my way*
      *Quickly swaps real and fake boxes, nothing happens*
      *Starts to walk slowly away, smile spreading across face*
      *Ominous rumble from back of room, dust starts shaking from ceiling*
      *Start running for exit as giant Echo Dot rolls from storage area, crushing shelves, employees and other customers as it accelerates towards me while Alexa s

  • I'm honestly not sure who they are catering too or what the business case is.

    #1 They still need staff to monitor the alcohol and make sure everyone is over 21
    #2 They still need staff to stock shelves
    #3 They still need staff to help you find whatever
    #4 They still need staff to prevent you from walking in without identifying yourself (namely, the GO phone app)
    #5 There is so much technology embedded in the ceiling that I have a hard time if will ever pay for itself
    #6 Like all things from Amazon, everything is

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