In Brief

Amazon Go: AI-powered supermarket opens

Checkout-free concept could end queuing in shops

Amazon’s first cashier-less supermarket opens to the public in downtown Seattle today - a move that could revolutionise high-street shopping.

Called Amazon Go, the grocery shop is powered entirely by artificial intelligence (AI) systems that monitor the products that shoppers take off shelves, The Daily Telegraph reports. 

Customers are then charged for the items through the Amazon app on their smartphone, which they have to scan on an automated turnstile to enter and exit the store. 

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A combination of “computer vision, machine learning algorithms and sensors” are used to accurately track which items shoppers pick up, says the newpaper. Any products that are put back on shelves are not added to the customer’s bill. 

Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, says the store worked very well throughout the one-year test phase - when only Amazon employees were allowed to shop there - thanks to four years of prior legwork, reports BBC News. Puerini added: “This technology didn’t exist [until then] - it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.” 

However, The Guardian says there have been claims that the technology did not always work as expected during the trial. 

One source told the newspaper that the AI systems had difficulties identifying customers with similar body types, and that children had confused the tracking technology by moving products to different shelves. 

Amazon has yet to reveal whether it plans to open more Go stores, either in the US or abroad. 

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