Amazon has announced an updated version of its smart Dash Cart, a shopping cart that lets users scan and pay for their purchases while shopping to avoid waiting in checkout lines.
The original Dash Cart launched in 2020, and Amazon is slowly rolling them out (ho-ho) to its Fresh grocery stores and Whole Foods Market stores. It’s clear they’re still a bit of an experiment, though, and Amazon says the new Dash Cart will only be available at the Whole Foods store in Westford, Massachusetts for a while “in the coming months” before slowly rolling out to other Fresh and Whole Foods locations in the US.
The cart’s main feature is a sensor matrix at the edge that uses AI-powered cameras and barcode scanners to identify whatever you put in (or take out) and create a live receipt. As you can see in this video from 2020, the system is very fast and recognizes the items almost as soon as you put them in the cart without much fuss. The touchscreen lets you check how much you’ve spent, and the built-in scale lets you weigh bulk items.
The new Dash Cart retains the same basic functionality with some added upgrades. The carts weigh less but carry more (double their capacity from two grocery bags to four) and are now better located in stores. This means the touchscreen (which can be used to find goods via a search function) will also show nearby products and deals.
Amazon says it has also improved the carts’ battery life, which should make them available throughout the day instead of keeping them in their charging stations, and improved their durability so they can be taken outside to buyers’ cars. According to the company’s press release:
To test durability, we baked the technology in an oven and froze the test carts in a giant freezer to make sure they would survive harsh climates. We also dropped heavy weights into the baskets of the test carts more than 100,000 times to make sure they remained usable after an impact—needless to say, we’re confident the Dash Cart is durable.
Great – so you can probably ride this thing down a hill without too much trouble.
The carts do seem useful, and are part of a trend to remove checkouts from supermarkets and grocery stores in general (which leads to payroll savings for companies, but can also make life less convenient for shoppers). Amazon, of course, is already pursuing this transformation through its AI-powered Just Walk Out camera technology. But it has been suggested that placing this technology in carts, rather than installing it in store beams, may be easier in some locations.