Amazon has announced an updated version of its smart Dash Cart – a shopping cart that lets users scan and pay for purchases as they shop to avoid waiting in checkout lines.
The original Dash Cart launched in 2020, and Amazon has slowly rolled 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 its Westford, Massachusetts Whole Foods store sometime “in the coming months,” before slowly heading in towards other fresh and whole products. Food locations across the United States.
The main feature of the cart is an in-rim sensor network that uses AI-powered cameras and barcode scanners to identify everything 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 items pretty much as soon as you put them in the cart without too much trouble. A touchscreen lets you check how much you’ve spent, and a built-in scale lets you weigh loose items.
The New Dash Cart retains this same basic functionality with a few additional upgrades. Carts weigh less but carry more (doubling their capacity from two bags of groceries to four) and are now better positioned in stores. This means that the touchscreen (which can be used to find products via a search function) will also display nearby products and offers.
Amazon says it has also improved the carts’ battery life, which should make them available all day rather than keeping them in their charging stations, and improved their durability so they can be taken around outside buyers’ cars. According to the company’s press release:
To test durability, we baked the technology in an oven and froze test carts in a giant freezer to make sure they would stand up to harsh weather conditions. We also dropped heavy weights into test cart baskets over 100,000 times to ensure they would remain usable after impact – it goes without saying that we’re confident the Dash Cart is durable.
Cool – so you can probably get this thing up a hill without too much trouble.
The carts seem really useful and part of a trend to remove checkouts from supermarkets and grocery stores in general (which saves companies wages but can also make life less convenient for shoppers). Amazon, of course, has already continued this transformation with its AI camera-powered Just Walk Out technology. But presumably putting this technology in carts, rather than installing it in store rafters, might be easier in some places.