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Stellar Lifestyle opens high-tech retail space

The Hive 2.0 retail space in Esplanade Xchange uses AI and robots to enable self-checkout, prepare and serve beverages, and deliver items to offices in a nearby building

A high-tech retail space powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics has been launched at one of Singapore’s transit retail spaces, providing commuters with self-checkout retail experiences as well as beverages prepared and served by robots.

Dubbed Hive 2.0, the space, located in Esplanade Xchange, was developed by Stellar Lifestyle, the business arm of Singapore public transport operator SMRT, together with retail partners including 7-Eleven and technology startups Javis Holdings and QuikBot Technologies.

At 7-Eleven’s first self-checkout store, which is fitted with smart cameras and sensors, commuters can tap their credit card to enter the store, pick up the items they need, and leave the store without going to a cashier. Purchases are automatically charged to their card as they exit.

Computer Weekly understands that the store uses computer vision models that run on-premise and in the cloud to identify items picked up by customers. 7-Eleven also leverages data from the store to identify popular items and restock shelves.

Serene Seow, managing director of 7-Eleven Singapore, said the store “marks a significant milestone in our commitment to innovation and staying at the forefront of retail technology as we continue to adapt to the changing retail workforce landscape as well as the evolving needs of customers”.

Workers at the nearby South Beach Tower can also have their 7-Eleven orders delivered to their offices by robots from QuikBot Technologies. The last-mile delivery service is powered by a fleet comprising larger robots that consolidate orders, and smaller robots that use machine vision and Lidar (light detection and ranging) to navigate sidewalks. The robots can connect with building management systems to call for lifts and open security gantries.

In the coming months, commuters will also be able to order bubble tea while they are on the train and pick it up at Hive 2.0 from Javis, a fully automated vending machine that brews fresh bubble tea, addressing the cost and labour challenges that many Singapore food and beverage operators are grappling with.

Tony Heng, president of Stellar Lifestyle, noted that by leveraging AI, robotics and connected networks, Hive 2.0 will help merchants become more operationally resilient. “We designed these innovations to leverage our extensive rail network, allowing us to create new in-store experiences where consumers can enjoy greater convenience and enhanced retail experiences,” he added.

Besides transit locations, delivery robots are being deployed in industrial estates by JTC, the Singapore government agency that builds and manages industrial infrastructure in the city-state.

In October 2023, JTC said it had conducted a successful trial of its autonomous food delivery service in the 31-storey JTC Summit in Jurong Lake District and would extend the service to other industrial estates such as Woodlands North Coast and Punggol Digital District.

Called Kopi, JTC’s autonomous food delivery robot is initiated directly by customers without any back-end intervention. The robot’s integration with building management systems gives it access to different floors using lifts, as well as building security access clearance. Its location is tracked and monitored in real time on JTC’s in-house-developed digital twin.

The robotics solution leverages the Open Digital Platform, an open standard multi-protocol middleware developed by JTC and other Singapore government agencies to overcome the challenge of integrating proprietary systems and applications in a single platform to deliver smart estate services.

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