Why don’t our shopping carts follow us around the grocery store? |

Why don’t our shopping carts follow us around the grocery store?

Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Derby Clerfe, Giant Eagle's beer and wine leadership/supervisor, uses a shopping cart to transfer boxes of wine to the beer and wine department as he replenishes the shelves at the Tarentum Bridge Road location in New Kensington on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Carnegie Mellon University professor Manuela Veloso shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton around the school's robotics lab on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Manuela Veloso has had it with dumb things on wheels.

Suitcases we have to pull through airports.

Shopping carts we have to push through the aisles of grocery stores.

“Why can’t this cart follow me?” Veloso, a longtime robotics and artificial intelligence researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who will become head of JPMorgan’s AI efforts next month, asked during the MIT Technology Review EmTech Next conference this week in Cambridge, Mass.

“Everything that has wheels, one day, you could actually just say, ‘Follow me,’ and it should just come,” Veloso continued. “There is no reason for us in Trader Joes to be sending our husband or our partner to the cashier while we shop instead of having a robot that we just send. These carts should all be automated.”

The theme of the conference was how robots and artificial intelligence are changing the future of work and if we’re ready. Veloso, head of CMU’s Machine Learning Department, is. One of her robots will greet you inside her department at CMU and lead you to her office. She showed a video during the conference of how a robot will get you coffee even though it doesn’t have any hands.

Self-driving suitcases made a splash at CES this year. At least three companies showed off suitcases designed to follow people, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Self-driving shopping carts may be obsolete if we all start buying our groceries online and pick them up at the store or perhaps have them delivered by a self-driving car.

But Veloso’s point is simple. While AI might not be able to do all the things we want it to do, yet, it can do some things very well. Empowering autonomous suitcases or shopping carts to follow us around is one of them.

Veloso has been at CMU since 1992. Starting July 1, Veloso will take a leave of absence from CMU to head JPMorgan’s artificial intelligence research, a new position the bank created.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected], 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.