For some elderly citizens the simple act of shopping can prove daunting and an assistant or carer may be required to help out. Aiming to help increasingly (if sometimes reluctantly) tech-savvy seniors, is Robovie II - a robotic assistant that takes a pre-transmitted shopping list and follows the customer around the store, carrying their goods while communicating and even offering suggestions.

The advanced version of the Robovie II android is being developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) has been designed with the aim of making shopping an easier and more entertaining experience for seniors. The android is part of a bigger network of sensors and wireless devices, with the customer’s experience beginning before they even enter the store.

A user inputs their shopping list on a mobile device from home, telling the robot’s on-screen avatar what they require. This information is wirelessly transmitted to a waiting robot, which greets the customer by name as they enter the supermarket. The robot then proceeds to carry the user’s shopping, verbally read out the next item to be collected while also making suggestions for suitable additional items. Robovie II is currently being tested in the Apita Seikadai supermarket in Kyoto until March 2010.

Check out the vid below to see Robovie II helping and communicating with a 67 year old shopper. After the demonstration the woman said she almost felt like she was shopping with her grandchild. So either she has an incredibly well behaved grandchild, or the Robovie II's developers have included a pester subroutine.

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