Technology Spain , Salamanca, Friday, July 20 of 2018, 11:27

A smart shopping car for people with reduced mobility

Researchers from the University of Salamanca develop a system that includes an autonomous cart that follows the client throughout the supermarket and provides products information

FGUSAL/DICYT Researchers from the University of Salamanca have developed a revolutionary shopping cart that will facilitate the acquisition of products in supermarkets, especially for people with reduced mobility. The car will be able to follow the user through all the corridors, will count the products that he has chosen and can offer information and advice on these products nutrition values.

"The main objective of this project is the design and construction of an autonomous shopping cart that is capable of following a person inside a supermarket", explains Gabriel Villarrubia González, researcher at the Department of Computer and Automation of the University of Salamanca. To do this, the person only has to raise his or her arms to synchronize the visual recognition system. If you are dealing with people who cannot perform this movement because they carry crutches or go in a wheelchair, synchronization can also be done through voice commands.

Through a mobile application, the customer can make his shopping list at home. Once he arrives at the supermarket, the information goes to the chosen shopping cart and the system identifies the products that are being acquired. In addition, it shows the user how much his purchases are going to be in real time.

In addition, "given that the labeling of the products presents difficulties for the elderly or those with visual problems, the cart is able to detect which food has been chosen and reproduces, for example, its ingredients or its chemical composition", explains the researcher. This is especially important for food intolerant clients. The experience has been further enriched because the system can provide information for the client regarding recipes depending on the products that the user has been incorporating into the shopping cart.

Various technologies involved

"The main technology used in this project is image recognition, which is applied to identify the user and to guarantee that the shopping cart will accompany him throughout the supermarket. We also incorporate RFID sensors, which serve to identify products. Finally, another important technology is Bluetooth, by means of which the trolleys can be guided through the corridors, "says André Salas, a researcher involved in the project.

The system implementation in a regular supermarket is simple and offers many advantages not only to customers but also to the managers of these businesses. "It would be necessary to make two adaptations," says Alberto López, another member of the team.

"On the one hand, we have to incorporate in the trolleys batteries, motors, the image recognition sensor to identify at all times where the user of the car is and a tablet to visualize the information. On the other hand, in the environment you have to place Bluetooth beacons for the spatial location of the carts, "he explains.

The project has been developed thanks to the Proof of Concept call of the General Foundation of the University of Salamanca within the TCUE program from the regional Government of Castilla y León, co-financed with FEDER funds and has already caught the attention of some companies.


More data to improve management

In fact, for business managers, the system can provide valuable information to improve the decision making. For example, "having the supermarket users located at all times through their shopping carts allows us to make a series of statistics based on the behavior of users, so that we can know which are the areas that concentrate more clients and, with these data, perform a redistribution of products if necessary, "says the researcher.