Amazon puts smart cart in whole food store

  • July 18, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Amazon is bringing its Dash Cart smart shopping trolley to a whole food store for the first time.

The revised version of the trolley will be available for use at the Whole Foods Market store in Westford, Massachusetts, in the coming months.

This version of the Dash Cart carries more groceries and is weather proof so it can go all the way to the car.

In September 2020, Amazon’s physical retail team introduced the Dash Cart, a smart shopping trolley that helps make grocery trips quicker by skipping the checkout queue.

“We’ve since made the Dash Cart available for use at many Amazon Fresh stores across the USA, listened to shopper feedback on the cart and their ideas for the future, and watched as customers excitedly told us how they love the ease of use, convenience and time saved by using the Amazon Dash Cart,” said Dilip Kumar, vice president at Amazon. “We’re excited to announce a new version of the Dash Cart, offering new features to make shopping with the Dash Cart even easier and more convenient. We’ve built the updated version of the Dash Cart to continue to offer the features people love most, like real-time receipts and the ability to weigh produce directly in the cart’s basket, alongside new conveniences and behind-the-scenes technology advancements that further improve the Dash Cart shopping experience.”

The new carts weigh less than the original version but have more than double the capacity of the previous carts, holding four grocery bags instead of two. The trolleys now include a delicate items shelf as well as a lower shelf for oversized items. They are weather resistant so they can go all the way to the car for added convenience.

The screen will display images of fresh items nearby, such as produce, for shoppers to choose from, or shoppers can type in the item name (“tomato,” for example) instead of a four-digit PLU code.

Each cart can more precisely determine where it is in the store to show nearby products and deals.

An extended all-day battery life requires less charging, making them more readily available.

“These updates are the result of customer feedback, improved computer vision and sensor fusion technology, and backend innovation and testing,” said Kumar. “For example, we doubled the capacity of the cart while maintaining the ability to quickly measure produce weight for certified accuracy and price. Consider stepping onto a scale, which usually takes a few moments to stabilise and produce a final weight. The Dash Cart stabilises nearly instantly. We’ve created algorithms that can determine signal from noise, like the cart moving through the store (noise), so it can calculate weight (signal) without asking shoppers to stop the cart.”

Because the carts have been made bigger, Amazon knew shoppers would want to take them all the way to their cars, which meant they would have to withstand summer heat and winter cold. To test durability, it baked the technology in an oven and froze test carts in a giant freezer to ensure they would survive harsh weather conditions. It also dropped heavy weights into test carts’ baskets more than 100,000 times to ensure they would remain usable after impact.

The revised Dash Cart will be available for use at the Whole Foods Market store in Westford, Massachusetts, in the coming months, followed by a few additional Whole Foods Market stores and many Amazon Fresh stores in the USA.

“As many of our customers return to their in-store grocery shopping routines, it’s exciting to introduce new and unique ways for them to shop our stores,” said Leandro Balbinot, chief technology officer for Whole Foods Market. “We’re thrilled that the newest version of Dash Cart will debut in our Westford store and can’t wait to hear the feedback from our customers there.”

To use this version, shoppers have to log in through a QR code in the Amazon or Whole Foods Market app, which allows them to sign in and begin using the cart. From there, shoppers place their bags (if using them) in the cart and start shopping, scanning their items using one of the cameras near the handlebar of the Dash Cart.

The trolley combines computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to help verify each item placed in or removed from the cart. The screen shows a real-time receipt of all items in the cart and, when shoppers are ready to check out, they exit the store through the Amazon Dash Cart lane and their payment is processed using the credit card associated with their Amazon account. Shoppers will receive an emailed receipt shortly after leaving the store.

“The Dash Cart is one of the ways we’re helping customers save time during grocery shopping trips, and the recent enhancements include the features shoppers said they wanted most, giving them another option to reduce friction from grocery shopping trips of all sizes,” said Kumar. “Our goal with the Dash Cart has always been to make in-store shopping more convenient by eliminating the need to stand in checkout lines or unload and reload items at self-checkout stations, and we hope shoppers enjoy these updates as much as we think they will.”