This robot, named Model-T, is now stocking shelves at a FamilyMart convenience store in Japan. For this trial use, the alien-looking robot is controlled by an operator in a remote location.
According to robot firm Telexistence, Model-T will enable stores to "operate with less number of workers and enable them to recruit employees regardless of the store's physical location." From their announcement:
As the first step, TX will start remotely operating the restocking of PET plastic beverage bottles from the backyard storage area of the store, which makes up a relatively large portion of the workload in the store, and also verify the restocking speed and accuracy of the robot. Going forward, FamiyMart and TX will continue to expand the items to be handled by the robot to other product categories, such as rice balls, sandwiches and bento boxes, and aim to deploy the Model-T in up to 20 stores franchised by TX by 2022. In the meantime, TX will continue aiming to introduce Model-T to a broader franchise network and eventually cover all FamilyMart stores.
By introducing Model-T into stores, FamilyMart store staff will be able to work in multiple stores from a remote location, which will help solve challenges around labor shortage and help create new job opportunities. It will also lead to the reduction of human-to-human contact to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
(via IEEE Spectrum)