Amazon Opening ‘Amazon Go,’ A Convenience Store With No Checkout Lines

You know that feeling you get at the store when you realize you’ve once again chosen the wrong checkout line, the one that’s moving the most slowly? And self-checkout machines eliminate the cashier but not the lines (if the machines are even working). Amazon hopes to eliminate checkout-line frustration altogether with Amazon Go, its new bricks-and-mortar convenience store.

The online retail giant says that Amazon Go — the first of which is set to open in Seattle next year — won’t require shoppers to go through the traditional checkout process. Instead, folks scan the Amazon Go app upon entry, and the store itself acts like a hotel room minibar: shoppers wander around and choose items they want while the app keeps track of what they’ve put in their bags.

If a shopper decides they don’t want a product after all, they put it back on the shelf and the app’s virtual shopping cart updates itself. Then, when shoppers leave the store, the app automatically charges them for whatever they’ve gathered during the excursion.

Amazon calls this its “Just Walk Out” technology, likening it to the same kinds of technology used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Shoplifters will probably call it a pain in the neck if it becomes more widespread.

Amazon Go is currently open for beta testing for Amazon employees, and will be open to the public in 2017, though the company hasn’t shared a specific date.

While the checkout-less aspect of this projects is a bit of a surprise, there have been recent rumors that Amazon has its eye on making a big push into the convenience store business: in early October, a report indicated that the company had plans to open physical convenience stores as well as offering curbside pickup for Amazon Fresh subscribers. A few weeks later, another report said Amazon has plans to open 2,000 grocery stores over the next decade, with some of those locations also offering a “click-and-collect” service for online orders.