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MUSE Inc. Pre-orders Open for Armo The Store Robot Revitalizing Sales Floors

Leading Supermarket Chain, Belc, Commences Early Adoption in Stores

 

MUSE Inc.(CEO: Yasutaka Kasagi; Head Office: Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, JAPAN), with the mission 'INSPIRATION TO THE WORLD WITH ROBOTICS', Starting from November 1, 2023 (Wednesday), MUSE Inc. will initiate pre-orders for the store robot 'Armo' (hereinafter referred to as Armo) on our official website. Although product shipments are anticipated to commence within 2024, customers who reserve in advance will be prioritized to receive early verification plans in sequential order.


【Website】        https://www.muse-gr.com

【PROD Video】    https://youtu.be/PffXiMDTzl0


Armo is an autonomously mobile robot optimized for use in retail stores, contributing to the automation of tasks such as stock replenishment within the store. Since April 2023, MUSE has been conducting demonstration experiments at the Wakō-Nishiyamato store of the major food supermarket chain, Belc CO., LTD. (hereinafter referred to as Belc). Through these experiments, we have confirmed consistent results towards actual operational use. We are pleased to announce the commencement of early adoption at Belk stores starting from November.




Optimized Product Design for Retail Store Environments and Operations


While various transport robots such as AGVs, AMRs, and serving robots have been widely adopted in warehouses, factories, and restaurants, there has been a notable absence of robots in daily operation in retail environments, including supermarkets, home centers, and drugstores, both in Japan and internationally.


On the other hand, retail businesses are also grappling with a severe labor shortage and rising personnel costs, creating a strong demand for labor-saving measures, particularly in tasks such as stock replenishment within stores. However, the reluctance to adopt robots stems from the unique environment and operations specific to retail establishments.


Confronted with challenges such as 1) high foot traffic in aisles, 2) narrow aisle widths, and 3) obstacles to installing guiding lines or markers for robot navigation, addressing these environmental constraints becomes imperative. Moreover, the simultaneous need to 4) transport diverse products with varying weights and shapes, and 5) flexibly support staff engaged in multitasking operations underscores the necessity of harmonizing operational requirements with the unique constraints of the retail setting.

 

Consequently, even if utilization were feasible, ensuring cost-effectiveness within the limited timeframe, such as during non-business hours when there are no shoppers, has typically proven challenging. In response, we have meticulously designed the Armo robot, tailored to the distinctive features of retail stores, taking into account both environmental and operational considerations, to deliver a solution that effectively addresses these challenges.



Automated Stock Replenishment Transport 1.5x Boosts Operational Productivity


Armo-empowered operations automate tasks such as stock replenishment within the store. Additionally, assigning dedicated staff for activities such as rearranging products in the backroom and setting up displays in-store not only accelerates proficiency but also enhances overall productivity.

(Below: Refer to the workflow diagram)


In the conducted trial at Belc, one of Japan's major supermarket chains

 a notable 1.5x enhancement in operational productivity for stock replenishment tasks was observed. Mr. Harada, Head of Belc's Operations Department, expressed his appreciation, stating, 'Armo stands out for its optimized navigation in store environments, ease of integration compared to existing robots, clear effectiveness points, and an appealing implementation cost. It feels like we finally have a robot that can effectively collaborate with employees in the store.




About Funding


In October 2022, we secured approximately 100 million yen in seed funding, with Incubate Fund and XTech Ventures participating . Leveraging these funds, we have focused on the development of the physical prototype, conducted verification experiments with customers, and expanded our team by recruiting additional talent.







Future Developments - Armo’s Enhancement of Multi-use Functions.


The commercial version of the store robot 'Armo' is set to commence shipments within 2024. Customers who reserve in advance will be provided with an exclusive early verification plan (approximately one month) to experience Armo in real store scenarios. For the dedicated carts used in transportation, customers can choose between two options (cut trolley type or dolly type) or opt for customization to match their preferred shape and specifications.


MUSE Inc. also plans to enhance the multi-use functionality of Armo, including functions such as collecting shelf images and guiding shoppers through the store.


The real-time collection and cloud storage of shelf images within the store become possible with Armo. Leveraging this functionality enables measurement of product stockout rates and stockout times, coordination with restocking activities, and monitoring of shelf arrangements.


Additionally, utilizing the captured shelf images, we can display the location and images of products to shoppers, guiding them directly to the shelves, thereby enhancing the overall in-store experience.


The expansion of these multi-use functions significantly enhances the effectiveness of robot deployment.

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