Remote-controlled robot stocks shelves at Japanese convenience store Family Mart

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Japanese robotics company Telexistence designed the robot Model-T, which can be controlled remotely at least 8km away using a VR (virtual reality) set. Family Mart uses Model-T to restock items on shelves.
Japanese robotics company Telexistence designed the robot Model-T, which can be controlled remotely at least 8km away using a VR (virtual reality) set. Family Mart uses Model-T to restock items on shelves.

In recent times, we have seen an increased use of advanced technology in Japan to improve business efficiency, such as implementing holographic interfaces and hiring robot cashiers. This time, Japanese convenience store Family Mart is also embracing the wonder of technology and has been testing the functionalities of a robot called Model-T.

Designed by Japanese robotics company Telexistence, with a black appearance and the eyes of a cat, Model-T can be controlled remotely at least 8km away using a VR (virtual reality) set. In the case of Family Mart, Model-T can be controlled by a single employee to restock items on the shelves at several locations.

Although the use of VR requires some practice and the robot’s actions may seem less speedy than an actual human, Model-T can potentially alleviate the labour crisis that Japanese convenience stores face. They would just need one person at each store to attend to the customers, while the robot operator focuses on restocking at multiple stores.

In response to Model-T, Japanese netizens are generally welcoming with comments like, “I want to see the VR-operated robot in action at convenience stores!” Another highlighted that nowadays convenience stores could not find part-time workers, so employing robots is useful.

By 2022, Family Mart plans to employ Model-T at up to 20 locations as the speed and accuracy of the system is improved, and will gradually roll it out to all stores.