Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Smart Cart

My addition to the half-bakery shopping cart collection
  (+3, -4)
(+3, -4)
  [vote for,

This is a programmed self-powered shopping cart that follows you around the store.

When you enter the store, you pick up a proximity badge (handed to you by the Wal-Mart greeter, perhaps). The badge is linked to a specific cart. Click a little button on the badge and a cart comes lumbering out of the in-store cart corral and meanders up to you, stopping 2 or 3' away. Clip the badge to your coat, and as you move through the store, the cart follows behind you like a well trained dog. Deposit your goods into it. The cart is equipped with a sensory device for detecting other carts or shoppers, to prevent collisions and to allow it to get out of the way if it happens to be blocking the path of another cart while stationary.

Finish shopping, walk to the checkouts and the cart automatically queues itself. You'll still need to remove the contents onto the counter, however. Once empty, the cart wanders to the other end of the checkout so that the checker can place the bagged goods into it. Pay for your things and then walk out to your car, the filled cart lumbering behind, using its sensors to avoid collisions in the parking lot. At your vehicle, unload the goods, place the badge into the cart (plug it in to a recharging built-in receptacle), which triggers the cart to return to the in-store corral on its own, where it backs into a line of other carts, all connected to an inline recharger, until it is needed again.

The perimeter of the store parking lot could be equipped with underground 'invisible dog fencing' to prevent theft of the cart and badge (either of which would howl out a screeching alarm and also transmit an alert to store authorities).

The cart's design could vary from traditional shopping cart appearance, since it would not be designed for human push power. However it would still have a regular push handle attached in the event of a malfunction or power-down during shopping.

Of course there would be plenty of space for advertising on the cart. I'm not certain about a toddler seat however, it could be done of course but I think some market research would need to first discover what the public opinion would be to leaving kids in a self-powered cart.

Future revisions could include a built-in bar code scanner that maintains and displays a running total of your grocery bill. A scale in the chassis would detect the weight difference and calculate the price when you buy a sold-by-weight item. At the checkout, you don't need to remove anything from the cart... just pay the running total amount the cart displays and you can go.

Another future revision.. an onboard help system tied into the store computers. Can't find an item? Ask the cart, and it will lead you right to it. You buy a can of beans, and do not notice there is a competitor's brand on sale... the cart could notify you.

A certain amount of the additional expense of these carts could be recouped by allowing the carts to play audio advertisements, perhaps transmitted to them from inside the store, a 30-second spot every two minutes or so. I'm not a fan of this development, but it might make the carts more favorable in grocers' eyes.

waugsqueke, Mar 24 2003

For Dr. C http://www.ruffwear...products/palisades/
Organic version. [Worldgineer, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

The most blatant theft assistance I have ever seen http://www.re-code.com
12 Apr 03 | I guess Wal-Mart is suing. The disclaimer at the bottom of the page is a laugh. [bristolz, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Smart Carts at Safeways http://news.com.com/2100-1017-963526.html
targetted advertising, RFID, etc etc [gtoal, Aug 08 2007]


       Heel. Good cart. Fetch pastry!
Worldgineer, Mar 24 2003

       If it hovers 2'-3' feet away from you, I guess you have to toss your choices into it, basketball style.   

       Better still: a virtual trolley - you walk around store, scanner in hand, scanning the bar-codes of desired goods and entering quantities. You come back to the checkout to find your selections checked and bagged. All you have to do is pay and leave.   

       I'd still want to hand pick perishables such as meat, fruit and vegetables, but that's it.
dalek, Mar 24 2003

       That's not a problem. The cart never moves away from you.
waugsqueke, Mar 24 2003

       Yeah, but I still get the one with the f@&#$d up wheel.
phoenix, Mar 24 2003

       if its so smart, it could at least limp.
po, Mar 24 2003

       You had me until you started advertising...

still, one pastry for a great idea.
ato_de, Mar 25 2003

       I have wanted luggage like this since I was a child. Any chance of expanding the product line...?
DrCurry, Mar 25 2003

       curry, see my link for a solution   

       bliss, I think it would be fun to throw a bunch of badges into someone's cart while their attention was elsewhere.
Worldgineer, Mar 25 2003

       Better yet, into their shopping bag on the way out, so that a legion of trolleys follow them out of the supermarket...
friendlyfire, Mar 25 2003

       This is acctually the perfect companion for an idea I had (but never posted), or should I say mine is the perfect companion to yours :)   

       A grocery cart with an embedded RFID scanner (once RFID hits big) then you could have your cart follow you, and scan any item you put it, maintaining a tally on the cart itself. You could also scan items by waving them at the front of the cart to get a readout ( price, expiry, ingredients.. anything that you store in the store server )   

       Then, when the cart queues itself, you leave everything in there and the bill is drawn up.. You pay as regular, the cart is marked as paid and is then allowed to leave the store (but not the parking lot).. once you unload, you place the badge in it's dock, (it returns a deposit if the stores still like that idea) the cart would then be marked as empty and return to the stall.   


       I'm not sure how to resolve the bagging issue.. Perhaps the cart would hold bags and you could take items off the shelf, put it in the bag, put the bag in the cart?
JackandJohn, Mar 26 2003

       The cart should be location-enabled, and have speech input, so when you arrive at the store (and any other time while walking the aisles) you can just say to it what you're looking for. Then it will show on its display the nearest item on your list (with a pointer as to the quickest way to get there, avoiding cart traffic jams, but possibly not strawberry jams) after computing a travelling salesman solution to finding all your items in the shortest walking path. And yes, it will probably advertise to you as you go. Unfortunately that part now exists - they're being trialled in the UK at this very moment. I'll see if I can find a link.
gtoal, Aug 08 2007


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