Japanese Convenience Stores To Begin Employing VR-Controlled Robots

Japanese store chain Family mart hopes to have robotic employees working in 20 branches by 2022.

Imagine walking into your local convenience store only to find the usual checkout person had been replaced by a remote-controlled robot operated in VR by a human being located hundreds of miles away. Science-fiction, right? Perhaps not.

Thanks to a recent partnership between Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart and Tokyo-based robotics firm Telexistence Inc., Tokyo residents may soon find themselves purchasing their tasty goods from a non-human vendor as part of a new campaign designed improve the work flexibility of Family Mart employees. Well, the human ones at least.

First reported by SoraNews24, Telexistence will begin employing its technology at specific Family Mart locations to study its impact on operating costs and efficiency. The idea behind the partnership, according to Family Mart, is to provide assistance to its workers by allowing them to work from home. This remote accessibility also proves beneficial to Family Mart branches struggling to find local workers. No one Family Mart location will feature an all-robot staff, however, so you’ll want to think twice before your go robot-tipping.

Based on the images provided, it appears as though these remote workers will be operating their VR counterparts via an HTC Vive headset. Three Vive Trackers provide additional tracking for the body and arms, while a pair of Manus VR Gloves track individual finger movements.

Telexistence Inc. will begin testing its system this summer at select Family Mart locations in Tokyo, Japan; the team hopes to have remote-controlled robots working in 20 branches by the year 2022.

Image Credit: Telexistence Inc.

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Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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