Telexistence develops a new robot TX SCARA and installs it at FamilyMart METI Store. Automating backyard beverage stocking operations with a proprietary AI system.

Telexistence Inc. (Headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Jin Tomioka; hereafter TX) and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Kensuke Hosomi; hereafter FamilyMart) introduced a new robot TX SCARA equipped with TX’s proprietary AI system Gordon to the “FamilyMart METI store” to perform beverage replenishment work in the backyard 24 hours a day in place of human workers, thereby automating high-volume work in a low-temperature environment where the physical load on store staff is significant.

TX SCARA is a self-developed SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm) robot that can operate in a small space in a store’s backyard.  It is automatically controlled by Gordon during normal operation. In the event of a restocking failure, the robot can be switched to Telexistence mode, which allows an operator to control the robot remotely through the Internet for quick recovery. In addition, “Gordon” learns from the store’s past sales data to optimize the replenishment timing according to product sales trends that change with time of day and season. Through the use of robotics and AI technology, robots will take over the task of restocking about 1,000 beverages a day, 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, store staff will be able to stay in the shop floor to perform higher value-added tasks such as customer service.

[Main Technical Features]

  • TX SCARA: A self-developed robot with optimized joint axis configuration and link length for beverage replenishment in the convenience store backyards. The hardware can be installed without changing the backyard environment of existing stores.
  • Gordon: TX’s proprietary AI system that uses a self-scanning module to recognize the product availability on the shelf. It also calculates the beverage gripping point and generates a path plan for the end-effector from gripping to placing.
  • Telexistence Mode: When the automatic restocking fails due to unexpected environmental changes, the system shifts from Gordon mode (automatic control mode) to Telexistence mode. The restocking operation can be completed 100% by remotely controlling the robot via the Internet. The so-called “The Frame Problem” of AI (see note) and the imperfections of artificial intelligence are supplemented by TX’s teleoperation technology.

The Frame Problem: When solving a given task, the current artificial intelligence extracts only the information necessary for the current decision or action from the countless events that can occur in the real world, and ignores the other information in its attempts. The problem is, however, that it cannot autonomously determine what information is necessary for itself and what information it can ignore, and thus the extraction process takes infinite time.

Through the operation of the FamilyMart METI Store, FamilyMart and TX will automate and remoteize  shelr restocking work, which requires a large amount of man-hours and places a heavy burden on humans. It will enable a new store operation where store staff can work via robots from anywhere, safely, as long as there is Internet access. At the same time, TX and FamilyMart will continue to build an environment that is easy to introduce robots (a robot-friendly environment), thereby accelerating the improvement of productivity, non-contact, and customer convenience.

This initiative is also part of the “Task Force to Promote the Construction of Robot Implementation Models” led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, in which FamilyMart participates since November 2019, aiming to reduce the number of workers in stores and build a new store operation infrastructure using robots.

Based on the concept of “FamilyMart, Where You Are One of the Family,” FamilyMart aims to be an indispensable place that goes beyond convenience, while staying close to the community and connecting with each customer like a family member.

TX is a robotics company that develops remote controlled robots with artificial intelligence, with the mission to change robots, change the structure, and change the world. Gathered by high expertise professionals from all over the world, the engineering team consistently develops robotic hardware, software and AI technology in-house. TX aims to expand the scope of robotics activities beyond the factory floor and transform the fundamental nature of labor society.

■Store Information
Name: Family Mart METI Store
Address: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Building, 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Store Hours: 7:00 〜 24:00

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