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No smartphone needed in Europe’s biggest autonomous supermarket

German discount chain Netto has opened Europe’s largest autonomous supermarket in Regensburg.

Customers can shop there without cash, a smartphone, registration or check-in – thanks to the deployment of artificial intelligence.

Intelligent camera system

The shop of 800 sqm is the first supermarket where customers can shop autonomously without registering, checking in or self-scanning, the retailer claims. Even a smartphone is not necessary: shoppers simply take a shopping trolley or basket and can start shopping.

An intelligent camera system records every movement and assigns products taken from the shelf to each shopping basket.

This is done anonymously, without collecting any personal or biometric data. Fruit and vegetables are automatically weighed and put on the ticket as soon as they are taken off the shelf.

Customers immediately see the price and exact weight of the items they grab on the digital display of the corresponding rack – a remarkable innovation from scale manufacturer Mettler Toledo.

Hybrid model

Once finished with their shopping, customers can make their way to the so-called “Fast Exit Terminal”. There is no need to scan items: rather, the detailed cash ticket appears immediately on the screen. According to Netto, this is unique in the world.

The retailer uses technology from Trigo Vision, the company that is also behind Aldi’s autonomous shops in Utrecht and Rewe’s pilot in Munich.

However, Netto adds a new-generation technology that uses generative artificial intelligence. Tests with autonomous shops have so far yielded mixed results (the error rate remains a concern), but AI may offer the key to a more reliable system.

In addition to the fast exit terminals, the shop also has regular service and self-service checkouts. With the hybrid model, the retailer aims to offer all customers the best possible shopping experience.


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