WATCH | The self-pushing shopping cart is here!
Self-pushing shopping cart?
When you hear "self-driving shopping cart," your response might be: "How lazy can we get?"
But the new DASH autonomous shopping cart does more than push itself; it's a full-fledge retail robot that brings modern efficiency to old-school five-and-diming.
It does more than just cart itself aroundSlated to hit shopping centers next year, DASH can be programmed with a map of the store in which it's operating and will drive itself to the products on your shopping list (which can be transferred to DASH from your smartphone). The items get scanned and paid for at DASH's tablet terminal, eliminating the need to wait in check-out lines.
Once you've paid for your goods, DASH drives them to your car, and then the bot navigates itself back to the store.
It really solves the problem of: I've walked into the store, I have no idea where anything is and I'm wondering around trying to find things.
WATCH | A DASH prototype runthrough
It's still in prototype
The only DASH prototype in existence today lives at University of Arkansas's Doug McMillon Innovation Studio, a retail technology lab. Students there are running the Five Elements Robotics-made shopping cart through some rigorous beta testing before production of the final product begins later this year.
Clint E. Johnson, director of the studio, told Circa he believes DASH can help customers make efficient use of shopping time before that "I'm ready to go home" moment hits.
It's all about how quickly can I get out of the [shopping] experience, back into my car and get home, back to my life.
Robot shopping carts taking people's jobs?
CEO of Five Elements Robotics, Wendy Roberts, believes, instead of fearing DASH will take their jobs, cart wranglers at shopping centers should welcome the new technology, as it could mean a move to high-tech jobs for them.
"You need people to input the [store] maps ... You need people to input weigh points and sale items" she told Circa. "It turns into a more high-tech position for people who maybe don't need that much training."