The "Fight for $15" minimum wage crowd is in for a big treat; Amazon's cashierless stores are just on the cusp of going prime-time in the race to plant the first flag in the now-inevitable future of automation.
Aptly titled "Amazon Go," the store will accurately charge individual shoppers for items removed from shelves and is being marketed as a grocery store without lines or checkouts or whiny workforces striking for a wage the job does not warrant. Ironically, the concept has been tested successfully in downtown Seattle, where the $15 minimum wage fight originated.
"It uses cameras and shelf sensors to track what shoppers pull from shelves and then charges them for what's in their carts when they leave the store, all without the use of cashiers or physical registers," reports Business Insider.
The technology is apparently so high-tech that Amazon employees tried wearing Pikachu costumes to fool the system and failed. The only Achilles heel not yet fixed is the tech's inability to charge large groups of shoppers such as families.
Bloomberg reports that "engineers have been studying families shopping together and are tweaking their sensors to recognize when a child eats an item while wandering around the store. Engineers are also figuring out which person to charge when a couple goes shopping together. Amazon has encouraged employees to enter the store in pairs and buy lunch."
Though Amazon Go stores were supposed to go nation-wide this year, technical difficulties kept that from happening. Amazon has now hired construction managers with the expressed intention of building the first stores.
"Analysts expect a version of Amazon Go technology to be rolled out eventually at Whole Foods," reports Bloomberg. "That’s a far more challenging prospect because Whole Foods locations are much larger than the 1,800-square-foot convenience store and carry thousands more products. Amazon, which says it currently has no such plans, would need a lot more testers wearing Pikachu costumes to pull that off."