Japan has the oldest population in the world, and that’s causing an acute labor shortage. With almost a third of the population aged 65 and above, finding workers can be a challenge.
Increasingly, companies are turning to technology as a solution — including two of the biggest convenience store franchises in Japan, FamilyMart and Lawson.
This week, Lawson deployed its first robot in a convenience store, in Tokyo. FamilyMart trialled the same robots last month, and says it plans to have them working in 20 of its stores by 2022.
Both chains are deploying a robot named Model-T, developed by Japanese startup Telexistence. Seven feet tall when extended to its full height, the robot moves around on a wheeled platform and is kitted out with cameras, microphones and sensors. Using the three “fingers” on each of its two hands it can stock shelves with products such as bottled drinks, cans and rice bowls.
I – Word Understanding
Deploying – sending (to work)
Kitted – equipped
II – Have Your Say
1, Does this robot remind you of something else? Can you imagine going around the convenience store with a robot / robots also there working?
2, Many convenience stores in Japan have foreign workers. Why is that so? What is the impact of these robots working for convenience stores?
3, Why do convenience stores have to open 24/7? What would happen if convenience stores don’t operate 24/7 anymore?