Amazon Go is a convenience store in Seattle. But unlike other convenience stores, this one lets you pick up the stuff you need and pay for it without having to wait in line for a cashier — so you’re essentially just walking in and out. Amazon employees have been test-driving the concept store, and that means also trying to break it: three Amazon workers dressed in Pikachu outfits in a bid to fool the system and essentially rob the store, reports Bloomberg. The Pikachus grabbed sandwiches, snacks, and drinks, but failed in tricking the system. The store’s tech was able to correctly identify the employees despite their yellow costumes, charging each Pikachus’ respective Amazon account, which is pretty darn impressive.
Amazon Go aims to get rid of cashiers completely to save you from all those times you’ve had to wait in line next to a screeching child. Amazon says the store uses a mix of technology including computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion (like on self driving cars) to identify a person and what they’re buying. The company refers to it colloquially as “just walk out technology.” Customers have to scan an app to enter the store, after which everything they take is logged via camera and shelf sensors and placed in a virtual cart. The system then bills the customer’s Amazon account when they leave.
The store was supposed to open early this year, but the launch was delayed because Amazon encountered technical issues (including the fact that it apparently breaks if more than 20 people are in it). A source told Bloomberg some challenges in implementing the system remain, though the technology had “improved markedly.” The store is able to identify individual shoppers, but struggled when groups of people were shopping together, especially families with “grabby” children. The UK and European regulators have approved Amazon’s trademark request for the store, so it’s looking like there will be expansion plans once the concept store has been refined.
It’s pretty impressive that Amazon’s technology can identify you underneath a Pikachu costume, so you obviously can’t rob it wearing one. If you do plan on dressing up as the yellow monster just for fun though, please remember not to speak.