Believe it or not, Amazon is having a little bit of trouble with its “super futuristic shop with no employees” idea. The latest report out of Seattle claims that the Amazon Go concept is being delayed due to some technical struggles. Basically, the computers get really confused when people shop.
Honestly, the idea of an intelligent supermarket that lets you “just walk out,” without standing in a queue to pay is futuristic as hell. It’s hardly a surprise that there are some hiccups. Unnamed sources recently told The Wall Street Journal about some of the problems. The paper reports:
Amazon has run into problems tracking more than about 20 people in the store at one time, as well as the difficulty of keeping tabs on an item if it has been moved from its specific spot on the shelf
Yikes. 20 people is not that many people, and any number of people in a grocery store pretty much guarantees stuff is going to get shuffled around on the shelves. That is not to say that the technology doesn’t work at all. Here’s The Journal again:
For now, the technology functions flawlessly only if there are a small number of customers present, or when their movements are slow
Go ahead and laugh. A shop that maxes out when a handful of people are present and can’t keep up with those shoppers unless they’re moving in slow motion is objectively hilarious.
The Amazon Go store that’s having the trouble is a beta version of the concept launched last December, and nobody expected everything to go perfectly. It looks like Amazon’s original estimate for an early 2017 public opening was overambitious. After all, the company expects big crowds when its headline-grabbing Amazon Go shops open to the public. That opening won’t go so well if the computers malfunction when too many people crowd the aisles or move too quickly.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see how Jeff Bezos and his buds make tweaks to the software so that people aren’t stealing sandwiches left and right. Amazon Go is a cool idea—but it’s not a very sensible one if Amazon can’t charge people for what they’re buying. [Wall Street Journal]