First it was automated car washes, then automated assembly lines and automated banking, now – automated grocery stores?
An Iowa city could become the first city in the country to have a robotic grocery store. Eat Greater Des Moines is a local non-profit set to bring the idea to the city’s Plan and Zoning commission next month, as part of a project to bring healthy food and necessities to those who don’t have enough. A site has been selected in what Eat Greater Des Moines calls an “underserved” neighborhood. If the commission approves, the site should be up and running by the end of August.
The store will feature touchscreen ordering. Unlike traditional vending machines that drop the items, this unit will have robotic arms and a conveyor system, allowing for fragile items such as eggs to be delivered without breakage. The stores, sold by Oasis24seven, are roughly 260 square feet, equipped with a front window so customers can view the items, and are able to hold anywhere from 200 t0 800 items.
The Des Moines store will be bulletproof and protected by security cameras. It will accept cash, credit, debit, and SNAP cards. This location will have around 200 items. Organizers have been holding focus groups in nearby low-income housing to see what items should be sold.
While the goal of Eat Greater Des Moines is for a grocery store to eventually move into the area, Oasis24seven has said they would like to see this kind of unit expand to other locations as well.
Between the rise in healthcare costs for employees, the discussion of raising the minimum wage, retail theft, and other security concerns, it is entirely possible that this kind of automation will only increase. Though not in production or use, there are machines that can make, cook, and assemble hamburgers. Between something like that and touchscreen ordering, we could possibly see a major upward trend in the use of automation in our lifetime.
What do you think? Too much automation? Would you rather talk to a person while checking out? Or is this something you’d prefer to use? Let us know in the comments.