Skip to main content

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

There is a real battle to change how consumers get their groceries raging right now, as exemplified by Amazon’s structural changes at Whole Foods, Walmart’s new push to deliver groceries, and Amazon’s cashless convenience stores. A new Boston-based company called Takeoff Technologies wants to occupy the sweet spot between all those innovations by bringing artificial intelligence-driven, robot-enhanced order fulfillment to grocery stores all over the country.

The basic idea is to install automated centers inside of grocery stores that are capable of assembling orders of up to 60 items in minutes, at a fraction of the speed and cost of having employees hand-pick the shopping order.

“Until now, the grocery industry has adopted two approaches to fulfill online orders,” co-founder and CEO Jose Vicente Aguerrevere explained to Digital Trends. “The first one is manual picking at the store level, and the second one is large warehouses with some sort of automation. These models only partially tackle the key costs of doing groceries online: Cost of picking products and cost of the last mile. Takeoff brings in an innovative approach that brings automation to the store level. This brings the best of two worlds: Lowest picking costs with robotized fulfillment and lowest cost of the last mile with hyperlocal operation.”

Takeoff is partnered with Knapp, a global leader in automated warehouse solutions and co-founders Aguerrevere and Max Pedro say the automation is beyond proven. “We are not reinventing the wheel with new robotic hardware and going through long cycles of [research and development],” Pedro said.

Takeoff works with retailers to identify 8,000 to 10,000-square-foot spaces inside existing grocery stores where they can employ their automated fulfillment system. By applying an additional layer of intelligence to a technology that already performs in more than 2,000 operational sites, Takeoff says that hyperlocal fulfillment will improve the experience of customers as well as store efficiency.

“Takeoff’s lower cost to serve than other models translates into lower costs and fees to shoppers,” Aguerrevere said. “Also, it enables a quick response to customers with orders fulfilled and delivered within two hours. It’s a real win-win for retailers and their customers.”

The company has already installed its first platform at a grocer called Sedano’s Supermarket in Miami, dubbed the “world’s first robotic supermarket,” and Takeoff is currently deploying additional sites for well-known chains like Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize.

Takeoff - eGrocery

Robotic grocery fulfillment is clearly a hot concept not only in the grocery market, where online sales are expected to reach $100 billion by 2025, but also in the minds of investors, who recently awarded Takeoff $12.5 million in a recent round of funding.

“Ecommerce presents a great growth opportunity for grocers,” Aguerrevere said. “However, the path to profitability has been challenging. Costs of picking and costs of the last-mile delivery coupled with the industry’s low margins make it challenging to be profitable without charging significant fees to shoppers. Takeoff’s hyperlocal automated solution offers low costs of picking with a much lower cost of the last mile delivery than an off-site warehouse. It’s also 10 times less expensive to build and takes three months as opposed to three years.”

Editors' Recommendations

Clayton Moore
Clayton Moore’s interest in technology is deeply rooted in the work of writers like Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow and Neal…
Bic’s A.I.-enabled razor will become a smarter, better shaving device

When you think of devices that might utilize artificial intelligence, you likely think of smart home technology, laptops, and video games. But what about shaving razors? At CES 2020, Bic announced The Next Bic Thing, a collaborative platform the company plans to use to foster innovation and creative products. One of these collaborative efforts is with Invoxia and it's is something surprising: A connected razor. 

What might artificial intelligence offer a razor, you ask? The technology is said to capture information about the temperature of the water, the humidity in the room, how dense your hair is, your shaving speed, number of strokes, total time spent shaving, how dull the blade is, and much more. This razor is still a prototype and hasn’t been named, but Bic hopes the data collected by the community will provide valuable insight into how people shave. 

Read more
Bosch sheds light on its A.I.-powered Virtual Visor tech at CES 2020
Bosch Virtual Visor

Bosch's automotive division created a see-through sun visor called Virtual Visor that automatically darkens to prevent sunlight from hitting the front passengers' eyes, while leaving their line of sight relatively clean. This artificial intelligence-powered technology was named Best of Innovation in the CES 2020 Innovation Awards.

The Virtual Visor is a flat, rectangular LCD screen with hexagon-shaped inserts that looks like a digital beehive. It folds down from the space right above the windshield like a regular sun visor, but, when it's down, you see the outside world instead of looking at your face in a vanity mirror. The Virtual Visor sees you, though. Its cabin-facing camera detects facial features, like the nose and the mouth, and it also knows if the sun is casting a shadow on your face.

Read more
Bosch’s A.I.-powered tech could prevent accidents by staring at you
bosch developing artificial intelligence powered in car monitoring system driver

Most cars sold new in 2019 are equipped with technology that lets them scope out the road ahead. They can brake when a pedestrian crosses the road in front of them, for example, or accelerate on their own when a semi passing a slower vehicle moves back into the right lane. Now, Bosch is developing artificial intelligence-powered technology that opens new horizons by teaching cars how to see what -- and who -- is riding in them. It sounds creepy, but it could save your life.

Bosch's system primarily relies on a small camera integrated into the steering wheel. Facial-recognition technology tells it whether the driver is falling asleep, looking down at a funny video on a phone, yelling at the rear passengers, or otherwise distracted. Artificial intelligence teaches it how to recognize many different situations. The system then takes the most appropriate action. It tries to wake you up if you're dozing off, and it reminds you to look ahead if your eyes are elsewhere. Alternatively, it can recommend a break from driving and, in extreme cases, slow down the car to prevent a collision.

Read more