Package delivery company UPS formed a subsidiary called Flight Forward and applied for the Federal Aviation Administration approval to begin operating commercial drone delivery.
Texas-based grocery retailer H-E-B piloted autonomous delivery near its Olmos Park, TX, supermarket with a self-driving vehicle named Newton, which can hold up to 32 orders of varying size.
Big box retailer Walmart partners with startup Alert Innovation to pilot a first-of-its-kind automated system called The Alphabot in its supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, dedicated to improving the fulfillment of grocery pickup. Housed in a 20,000-square-foot extension connected to the store, the high-speed system delivers items to sales associates to assemble and deliver orders to customers.
Canadian startup Attabotics has developed a micro-fulfillment center, creating a more flexible, accelerated and scalable fulfillment system through the help of automated technologies. Designed to resemble ant colonies, the three-dimensional structure is filled with condensed aisles and shelves and is operated by robotic shuttles that can move both horizontally and vertically along the structure.
California-based startup inVia Robotics levels the automated warehouse playing field by creating fulfillment robots for smaller online businesses. The robot's compact and unconventional design allows it to lift up to 40 pounds and special barcodes help them navigate and identify items.
E-commerce giant Amazon has begun testing CartonWrap machines from mechanical company CMC Srl that can build 600 to 700 boxes and add labels for custom orders per hour, which is four to five times faster than a human, in its fulfillment centers.
Grocery retailer Kroger's planned online grocery fulfillment center in Dallas, TX, designed by the retailer's partnering online supermarket Ocado to be a robot-operated facility, is estimated to be able to fill a 50-item order in less than 6 to 7 minutes.
Retailer Walmart expanded its fleet of Bossa Nova in-store bots from 50 to 350, taking time-intensive chores such as scanning shelves to look for out-of-stock items off of human employees’ hands.
Supermarket chain Giant Eagle began trialing San Francisco-based startup Simbe's Tally, an autonomous inventory robot that utilizes computer vision and RFID to scan shelves, providing insights on purchases and re-stocking management.
Austin, TX-based Pensa Systems has developed a drone for in-store inventory management, utilizing computer vision to capture real-time shelf conditions and artificial intelligence to recognize how products are managed and predict patterns for stock-outs. The drones are small, quiet and have enclosed-rotors in protective housing to make them safer. to be deployed after hours or select store hours when areas are free.
Convenience store chain 7-Eleven introduced a next-gen robot dubbed Veny in its Seoul, South Korea, location. The AI-powered robot comes with the hand-pay system, which identifies individual customers by their veins, allowing customers to pay simply by placing their hand on the robot.
JD opened a cashierless store in Jakarta, Indonesia, its first outside of China. Items are tracked by RFID, and camera placed throughout the store track shoppers’ movements to generate store heat maps to monitor traffic, product selection and shopper preferences to help optimize inventory and displays. The store sells FMCG and beauty products, along with apparel, so shoppers can try on a pair of jeans and walk out of the store wearing them. Facial recognition technology identifies shoppers as they leave, charging their credit card automatically for any items they take.
R Message is a new feature on Burberry's app that allows VIP shoppers to chat directly with store associates, strengthening bonds and sales
Consumer electronics brand Apple blends its trademark minimalist aesthetic with the streets of Garosugil, Seoul. The full-length window blurs the line between the street and the store, while interior trees mirror the iconic tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. The store also features a space for ‘Today at Apple,’ a program where visitors can learn skills including music, art and coding, and Boardroom, a training space for educators and developers.