Remote working - The Robotic Shop Worker

Remote working - The Robotic Shop Worker

7th October 2020

Heading down to the local supermarket is now a very different experience for us all in comparison to not so long ago, and definitely when we were younger. So, for our young children, is this their “norm”. And if so, for how long?

COVID-19 has brought about a new era whereby many businesses are struggling to survive, relying on limited aid from the government, and trying to adapt to the ever-changing rules and guidance put forward to encourage a safe, yet, to some extent, sustainable environment.

But not all businesses are experiencing the same misfortune, there are many out there whom are adapting to new measures, working remotely, thus, eradicating previous expenses, such as, rented office space and travelling costs, including company car payments and fuel and congestion charges.

One Japanese firm ‘Telexistence’, is hoping to thrive in changing the way supermarket shopping is done.

Miles away from a small supermarket in Tokyo; a human being is wearing a Virtual Reality (VR) headset, controlling the movements of a ‘Model-T’ robot that is physically restocking shelves and performing other laborious jobs typically performed by human beings, decreasing the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.

The human avatar design known as telerobotics or teleoperation means that human beings can “got to work” without actually having to leave their homes. Board director at Telexistence; Yuichiro Hikosaka, puts the concept down to the aging population in Japan that is creating a labour shortage.

It seems to be in the early stages of development, with the Model-T’s movements being less expansive than that of a typical human being and somewhat slower, however, as we know all to well, technology can be and is developed over time. Advancements in technology over the last 20 years has already seen many automated production lines, eradicating the need for so many human beings on the shop floor.

The many thousands of small supermarket shops in Japan are mostly owned by just three companies, thus if they decide to buy in to this innovative concept, the future of shopping looks to be a very different experience, even by todays’ standards.

So, whether it be your weekly visit to Aldi, Tesco or Waitrose; could you imagine seeing this technology working before your eyes? Would you trust it, feel safe in its’ presence? Or, is this just another “new norm” that to our young children and in the future their young children will be what they’ve always known?

But, are we increasing further the risk of a new generation of laziness, aiding the ever-growing number of obese people in the world population and putting further strain on our health systems, not to mention the financial implications of dealing with such conditions?

Perhaps in the not so distant future of history books, young people will learn how the world was very different, technology wasn’t available to do practically everything for them, and real-life human beings actually went out to work and performed physical jobs.

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Written by Ben Barrett - Cyber Security Consultant