Global brand Panasonic is currently testing the world’s first ‘robot checkout machines’, which can automatically scan, bag up groceries and process payments. The robo-checkouts scan items as they’re placed into a computerised basket, then the products fall from a trap-door into a bag waiting underneath.
The company has partnered with Japanese supermarket chain Lawson to install the innovation in a pilot store in Osaka, where it is currently being trialled.
According to Lawson’s CEO Sadanoby Takemasu, the new system will inevitably lead to labour savings, as store clerks are no longer necessary; however, executives at Lawson and Panasonic were quick to point out that the machines hadn’t been created to make employees redundant.
“Our store is also a point of communication for neighbours, where customers can enjoy chatting with clerks,” said Takemasu.
The introduction of self-service checkouts has already reduced the role of human staff in-store, but the recently-announced Amazon Go and Panasonic’s robo-checkouts take automation to a brand-new level. It won’t be a victimless change. For example, the International Labour Organisation expects that around 137 million workers in South East Asia will lose their jobs to automation over the next 20 years.