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Lawson, Panasonic team up to test robotic cashier-bagger at Osaka store

Staff Report

Convenience store chain Lawson and electronics maker Panasonic Corp. have started testing a staff-less register for which a machine settles the transactions and packs purchased items into a bag.

The system, dubbed Reji Robo, short for register robots, debuted at an outlet of Lawson in Osaka Prefecture on Monday. Lawson plans to eventually introduce the machine at its stores nationwide to alleviate a staff shortage and for peak-time congestion.

Autonomous cashiers have been introduced at some supermarkets in Japan, but shoppers have had to bag products by themselves after payment. The system introduced by Lawson is believed to be the first in which the packing is also automated.

Customers at an outlet near a Panasonic office in the city of Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, now get a sensor-equipped basket when they walk in the store.

At the checkout, they place the basket in the designated area of the cashier table, then swipe products through a barcode reader. A screen displays the total purchases. After the payment is done, the basket slides down through a hole in the cashier table and the machine packs the purchased items in a bag automatically, according to the companies.

By February, the convenience store operator also plans to attach electronic tags to all products so the items placed in the basket will all be automatically tallied and customers will not have to swipe them at the cashier.

“If demand is strong enough, we are hoping to come up with ways in which customers will get their purchases settled by just passing through the register,” Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

Reji Robo has been developed with subsidies from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, as one of the nation’s pioneering robotics projects.