Uber vs. California - Robot cars not ready for roads?


Problem is, if human drivers are much more productive than the cost advantages of automation go away. Also, if automated drivers mess with traffic in general (which has been the case in the test community in Arizona), people aren’t going to put up with them.


The thing about self-checkout in any store I’ve seen it is that it isn’t more automation. It’s roughly the same amount of automation as before, except they’re getting the customer to do the labor part for free instead of paying somebody to do it.


It really depends though right. It’s not as if 3 hours of automation time is results in 3 hours of freed up time, it should be more time. It’s the time I am not spending my time shopping which frees me up to do, something else, and it’s freed up time for the person who would do the work. It’s pretty rare that the act of travel is actually the goal. In this case, my goal is to get stuff I want and bring it home. The goal of the driver would be to get paid to do that. So if I get my time back and the driver can find employment elsewhere… it’s still a benefit depending on the cost of the automation and despite if it is slightly less efficient. Even if it takes an hour longer, that’s still freed up time for two people.

I mean there is a reason we don’t all line up at UPS and FedEx warehouses to pick up our stuff, and it’s not because us going there might take more time than it takes the driver to drop off hundreds of packages. If i could just go to the warehouse when i wanted it might take me less time if everyone else wasn’t doing the same thing.

I am not saying we’re there yet, but I see potential. I don’t really care if it takes an automated vehicle 3 hours to do what would take me 2 hours to do… I still get my 2 hours back.


That’s still a productivity gain, assuming the customers can do it in a reasonable amount of time. It’s better than them waiting around doing nothing while the cashier does the job.

I agree though: it’s a far cry from automation.


It’s not automation in the sense that a robot does all the work for them. It’s automation in the sense that if there’s a problem, they can’t (easily) yell at a human for doing their job wrong. Never underestimate the “needs” of assholes to complain loudly until they get discounted or free stuff, something that doesn’t work nearly as well when a computer handles your entire order instead of an underpaid college student.


Self-checkout, aside from being yet another example of shadow work, suffers from the same problem as many of these systems: It can’t handle anomalous situations.

I go into my grocery store with 2 or 3 reusable bags. I take the items off the shelf and put them in my bag. Then I unload my bags onto the conveyor at the checkout and hand the bags to the cashier when they are ready to start scanning the items.

Once I had to use a self-check station for some reason; I think it was late at night and the one open register had a problem. The machine told me to scan the first item and put it in the bag. I took my first item out of my bag and scanned it. Then I set it on the edge of the scanner and scanned the second item from my bag. The machine responded by scolding me about not putting the first item in the bag. It became clear that the machine refused to continue until I obeyed, so I took the first item and set it where the bag would have been. This still was not good enough for the machine to allow me to scan another item. I finally had to take all my stuff out of the my bag and pile it around the scanner, then place my bag on the little platform, and put the first item in it. Only then was I allowed to continue serving myself.

I prefer to reserve my shadow work for doing more of the job of our HR department (and I get to do even more of it when the new system comes up in January).


The Targets I go to have self checkouts.


The Amazon Go store is a couple blocks away from my office. I’ll try it tonight and let you know if it’s better than self-checkout. If I don’t return, assume I’ve been replaced by a robot.


I don’t ever recall seeing one at mine.

My condolences to you. I know it must suck.


If I wanted to shop with as little human interaction as possible, I would just shop at Amazon.


I love the self-checkout at our local Giant supermarket. There’s like 9 terminals so I can get out in record time. I even have the ID of the big cookie memorized (87024) so I can ring that up with no delay. The only slight hangup is when you buy some medicines or alcohol, but they have one cashier person stationed in the self-checkout area who zips over, scans their card, and enters a code to let me continue.

I scan and pack like a madman, use Google pay to pay for it, and am out the door in a flash.

The local Safeway has no self-checkout and trying to buy something there is like going back to 1950. Waiting in the lines is so… so… slooooow. Even when they’re short. Everyone moves in slow motion there.


It would be a huge productivity gain for the store if we stocked the shelves and unloaded the trucks for them too.


As I understand it, some supermarkets have their suppliers stock the shelves for the specific product that they supply.


Not just supermarkets, but it’s common across the board for soda vendors and sometimes impulse-buy vendors (chips, candy, also soda, magazines, and so on) to have representatives that handle stocking, setting up displays, and so on, separate from store employees. Depending on the company, that can be linked to product delivery or managed separately.


Big suppliers do it for stuff like chips or soft drinks. I see them in there fairly often.

But no supplier is in there stocking cans of beans or tuna.


For the store maybe, but not overall - because that’s not making use of otherwise wasted customer time.


Other Grocery stores are the worst! Way too expansive, especially the branded stuff. Aldi has them beat on every front. If only alcohol could be sold I’m Pennsylvania!

Oddly enough, Aldi is starting to do online orders and delivery. There is a coupon, so I might try it out, although I prefer to actual shopping in person to get the best deals.


We are all Pennsylvania sometimes, brother.


Well, now I can’t change it!


Anyway, we used to get generic flyers that showed all the alcoholic products sold at Aldi, and I’m a sucker for cheap Irish Cream. And of course, Aldi in PA doesn’t sell alcohol, so it always made me sad. Now, our flyers don’t show any alcohol anymore. I’m still sad, but I’m no longer reminded of the fact every few days.

PA liquor laws annoy me. On the one had, those state run stores are usually around the same price as Maryland (after you include taxes) and the jobs pay an actual living wage, since they are state employees.

On the other hand, I want my cheap Irish Cream!


Its been 17hrs… Time to send out a search party or are we too late to save him?