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Amazon’s futuristic grab-and-go store has reportedly hit a snag

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If you walked into your local grocery store, grabbed whatever took your fancy, and walked straight out again, you’d probably get arrested for shoplifting.

In Amazon’s Go store, the system will be the same, but without the bothersome run-in with the law. That’s because Amazon’s system ditches checkouts and instead uses technical wizardry to automatically extract the total cost of your items from your bank account the moment you step outside. Brilliant.

Except that the company is reportedly having difficulties with the all-important payment system at its test store in Seattle. This means that Amazon’s targeted “early 2017” date for a wider rollout of Go appears to have become more of a case of, “We’ll see when we can get it properly sorted and let you know.”

The technology that tracks customers as they make their way around the store is having trouble keeping tabs on more than 20 shoppers at a time, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week.

Additionally, the system is having difficulties tracking items that are moved from their original spot, an issue likely caused by those who suddenly decide they don’t want something and discreetly ditch it on a random shelf because they can’t be bothered to return it to its proper place. Of course you never do that.

The test store has been open to Amazon employees since December last year, but the Journal says that another problem is that the technology in its current form can only track customers if they’re moving around the premises very slowly — an issue that we hope doesn’t lead to speed limit signs appearing along every aisle.

Well, no one ever said that such a futuristic concept was going to be easy to nail, though Amazon will likely be frustrated at having to postpone the rollout of Go to locations across the country.

If you’d like to see how Amazon envisages a perfect Go store where it can reliably charge people as they walk out of the door with a bagful of groceries, check out the video above.