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Robot technology is expected to be applied to provide various services in homes, stores, public facilities and so on. However, if we just talk about homes, different homes have different layouts and require different services, which is a major factor increasing cost and technical issues. In contrast, convenience stores provide services with huge networks of chain stores worldwide. The store environments and services are standardized, so the problems mentioned above do not apply. On the other hand, it is a labor-intensive industry where store clerks do many tasks, so automation by robot technology is expected to bring huge benefits. At the same time, it is expected that technology will allow the creation of new services that were previously difficult to provide.
To create a new world where robot technology and employees work together to provide services to customers, we need to not only solve the technical issues, but also consider new services and store design that will become possible by the introduction of robot technology. Therefore, FCSC (Future Convenience Store Contest) has been started with two categories: a design category and a technical category. The technical category has been held as trial events for the World Robot Summit since 2017 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).
Holding the trial events in three consecutive years was extremely important to encourage further development of technology by aiming to achieve the challenges (updated every year!). The competition of WRS FCSC was originally planned in 2020, but it postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19. Therefore, the workshop will provide a great opportunity for the participants to present their technical achievement and have a focused discussion on innovative topics related with FCSC.