Robots are set to take over yet another job from humans
Amazon has plans for a two-storey, automated supermarket run almost entirely by droids.
A staff of robots on the top floor will automatically grab shopping from shelves and bring it down to customers waiting in their cars below.
This means that each store will only need to be run by a minimum of three staff at a time.
The ground-level of the prototype store is a supermarket-sized version of the company’s recently announced ‘Amazon Go’ convenience store.
The supermarket’s huge layout could reach anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet and sell over 4,000 items.
Items would include eggs, meats, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables, and ‘grab-it-and-go’ products like beer and wine, sources close to Amazon told the New York Post.
Eventually, Amazon plans to roll out these robot-run stores globally.
‘Amazon will utilize technology to minimise labour,’ a source close to the situation told The Post.
Amazon has already invested heavily in automation in its warehouses to cut down on staff.
The company has also begun using drones for deliveries instead of humans, and has even filed patents for an unmanned blimp that could be used as a floating warehouse.
But the latest plans could see a huge number of people out of work.
The average supermarket today is run by around 90 members of staff.
Amazon’s automated prototype supermarkets would be run by six staff at a time on average, the sources said. At a minimum, it could be run by three people.
A manager would help customers sign up for the company’s ‘Amazon Fresh’ grocery service.
Amazon could also employ ‘greeters’ to help curtail shoplifting at the thinly staffed stores alongside motion-sensing software to track goods.
‘Shoplifting is a touchy subject for Amazon,’ the source said.
Amazon may only open its stores to members of its ‘Prime’ and ‘Prime Fresh’ services, which carry annual fees.
‘In the view of Amazon, people who can afford Prime memberships aren’t likely to shoplift,’ the source said.
‘If someone walks in off the street, they’ll be able to access the stores, but they’ll have to sign up for a membership which means showing an ID.’
Using robots in the upper floors means that Amazon could pack for more items into a small space than conventional supermarkets.
Each store could pack in 15-20,000 items at a time.
With such a small number of staff needed to run each store operating profit costs of Amazon’s supermarkets could be above 20 per cent, the New York Post reports.