Tesco to rival Amazon with autonomous store

Tesco has announced plans to open an autonomous store following a successful trial.

The supermarket retailer has been trialling the frictionless checkout technology, developed by Israeli company Trigo, at its Tesco Express store in Welwyn Garden City, where the company has its headquarters.

The system uses AI-powered computer vision technologies together with off-the-shelf hardware to retrofit existing grocery stores with autonomous capabilities.

The company applies its proprietary algorithms to ceiling-mounted cameras which automatically learn and upload data on shoppers' movements and product choices, enabling customers to simply walk into a store, pick up their desired items, and walk out without stopping at the checkout.

Payments and receipts are settled digitally.

“We have a system installed in our Express store in Welwyn Garden City (at head office), and we’re extending that to another store to check it in a more urban environment,” said Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy. “It’s been opened about a year now, and it’s working really well… One of the joys of machine learning is it is continuously improving, so we’re feeling confident that we can put it into another store with a higher traffic.”

Amazon has opened five cashierless convenience stores this year under the Amazon Fresh brand.

The supermarket uses the e-commerce giant’s “Just Walk Out Shopping” technology, which uses a combination of cameras, sensors, and machine learning to detect when a customer puts items in their basket, and then automatically charges their account when they walk out.

The technology works via the Amazon mobile app but doesn’t require an Amazon Prime subscription to use.

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