Photo: Kaila Imada

Remote-controlled robots will start working at selected FamilyMart in Tokyo this summer

The konbini robots will be operated remotely by human employees via virtual reality

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

Japan’s love of robots is legendary, and soon you won’t have to go any further than your local convenience store to meet a bot. Japan’s FamilyMart chain of konbini is introducing remote-controlled robot ‘employees’ to some of its Tokyo stores this summer to improve overall efficiency and reduce operation costs. Designed by robotics company Telexistence, the robots will be used to stock store shelves.

Telexistence robot
Photo: Telexistence/Facebook

Wondering how this is going to work? Instead of being fully automated, FamilyMart’s robots will be operated by store employees via VR terminals at a separate location. The addition of these new robots will hopefully allow people to have a more flexible work schedule and help stores that have limited staff. 

The robots will be tested out in selected FamilyMart locations in Tokyo this summer, with an aim to have them installed in at least 20 stores by 2022. If all goes well, these new robots could become as integral to Japan’s konbini as cup noodles and fried chicken. 

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