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World's First 'Robotic Supermarket' Coming To Miami

It's the quintessential problem for the modern American supermarket: how to offer the wide selection that customers expect, yet still turn a profit after having to pay for its real estate and operating costs. A Massachusetts company, Takeoff Technologies, has devised a solution and is partnering with Miami-based Sedano's grocery stores to roll it out. 

Sedano's is a popular grocery chain in Miami.

The two companies say they have developed the world's first "robotic grocery store." Shoppers will order groceries on a smartphone app, and then, at an "automated micro-fulfillment center," artificial intelligence-enabled robots pick the items off shelves. They can pick 900 items per hour, versus human shoppers, who the companies say can only pick 60. Shoppers can come get their groceries or have them delivered. 

The rollout will start with 14 of Sedano's Miami stores. The 56-year-old chain has 34 stores throughout Florida.

Takeoff has said that by making use of vertical spaces and the robotic tech, grocery stores will need just one-eighth the amount of typical space. Supermarket News reported that the fulfillment centers can operate in spaces that range from 8K SF to 10K SF.

The new system can process 3,500 online grocery orders weekly. Takeoff said it is currently working with five retail chains to expand next year. 

But can the robots do this?