Autonomous robot updates price labels with energy harvesting

Autonomous robot updates price labels with energy harvesting

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

An autonomous robot is using free space wireless charging to update electronic shelf labels (ESL).

The prototype Robotic RFID Reader and Batteryless Immortal ESL Autonomous Price Changing System was developed by Badger technologies, a subsidiary of contract manufacuter Jabil, and Powercast.

The all-in-one robotic price-changing system is intended to save retailers time, money and batteries and the two companies aim to display the prototype system for the first time at CES 2022.

Robots on the market today can search for out-of-stock items and check prices, but do not update prices electronically in real time without requiring someone to physically change prices on the shelf. Pairing Powercast’s batteryless electronic shelf labels (ESLs) with the autonomous robots enables the back office to manage real-time electronic updates.

The changes to the ESLs take power from the Powercast RF-to-direct current (DC) power harvesting technology that can harvest enough power to operate perpetually from industry-standard RFID readers. In this system, RFID readers installed on the robots send RF power over the air as they roam by the ESLs to Powercast’s embedded receiver chips. These chips convert the RF to usable DC power to wirelessly update the ESL’s ePaper displays with new prices in seconds. The ePaper display continues to display that price even when it’s not being directly powered by an RFID reader.

Using Lidar to detect and safely avoid people, the robots can travel a store 24/7 for a completely autonomous price checking and changing system.

“There are no autonomous, batteryless systems like this on the market,” said Charles Goetz, CEO of Powercast. “Retailers will have greater control over their pricing, will create a better experience for their customers, and could save millions of batteries from going into landfills every year.”

“Our in-store, multipurpose robots monitor product availability, deliver precise product location data as well as collect and share other valuable data from the retail floor,” said William “BJ” Santiago, CEO of Badger Technologies. “The ability to help retailers implement an energy-efficient, autonomous price-changing system takes customer service and operational efficiency to the next level.”

To date, more than 500 Badger Technologies autonomous robots have been deployed throughout the United States, Australia and New Zealand while multiple pilot deployments are currently underway.

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