Innovation

Amazon Go grocery store replaces cashiers with automation and AI

Amazon recently announced Go, a brick-and-mortar concept store that uses technologies like artificial intelligence to eliminate the need for cashiers.

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Image: Amazon

If you're wondering what the grocery store of the future looks like, Amazon may have just painted the clearest picture yet. On Monday, Amazon announced Amazon Go, a brick-and-mortar grocery store that has eliminated the need for cashiers and checkouts, instead relying on specific technologies to confirm your purchase.

Amazon calls this group of tools its Just Walk Out technology, and it includes technologies such as "computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning," according to its website. Users simply visit the store—located in Seattle—and shop for the items they need. Just Walk Out detects what you take and charges your Amazon account after you leave the store.

The store itself is about 1,800 square feet, the website said, and it is designed to eliminate long lines and the checkout process. In addition to regular grocery items, the store also carries ready-to-eat meals and snacks and newly-introduced Amazon Meal Kits, the website said, which include everything you need to make a meal at home.

SEE: Research: Automation and the future of IT jobs (Tech Pro Research)

To shop at Amazon Go, you must have an Amazon account, the free Amazon Go app, and a compatible smartphone. Right now, though, the store is only open to Amazon employees and beta customers. However, it will be open to the public in early 2017.

The store has been rumored for a while, but it the details weren't fully disclosed until now. Amazon Go seems like an interesting complement to the company's AmazonFresh delivery service, which has been available in major metro areas for quite some time. As reported by ZDNet's Natalie Gagliordi, Amazon Go has been in the works for four years.

In addition to expanding Amazon's dominance of shopping convenience, the Amazon Go store shows us just what is possible with next-generation artificial intelligence technologies. As noted on the website, the technologies powering the experiencincing are all typically used for other automated situation as well, like autonomous driving.

However, what the Amazon Go concept also illustrates is how automation will eliminate certain jobs, or at least transfer more jobs from manual labor (cashiers) to software and systems engineers. Other companies like McDonald's have also looked to automation, especially as public conversations around minimum wage hikes continue to move into the spotlight.

Automation will also likely be coming to corporate and IT work as well. According to a Tech Pro Research report, 74% of businesses are already automating some IT jobs, or planning to do so in the future.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Amazon just launched Amazon Go, a grocery store concept that uses AI and automation to eliminate cashiers and cut down on long lines.
  2. Amazon Go, along with automation from companies such as McDonalds, shows how AI technologies will affect minimum wage jobs in the service industry and beyond.
  3. Automation is creeping into the corporate world as well, with 74% of businesses either using automation or planning to, according to Tech Pro Research.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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