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Amazon Go Challenger Acquires Mapping Startup

Standard Cognition and Explorer.ai join forces
Photograph courtesy of Standard Cognition

SAN FRANCISCO -- Standard Cognition, a frictionless checkout store with a unit open to the public in San Francisco, has acquired Explorer.ai, a mapping and computer vision startup.

The acquisition puts a team of seven artificial intelligence engineers and Explorer’s mapping technology toward the rollout of Standard’s Cognition’s frictionless checkout concept. Standard Cognition’s store uses cameras on the ceiling to determine what is in the store, the location of customers and which items they possess, and the company sees indoor mapping as an essential component of this equation.

Explorer.ai’s technology was initially developed for autonomous vehicles (AVs) by a team out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The same technology is used for in-store mapping. New technology and new talent will help Standard map larger stores, allowing the company to expand into retail verticals faster.

“We believe mapping is a critical ingredient to autonomous checkout,” said Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard Cognition. “The Explorer team has a strong record of tackling these problems together, and we're confident that this will allow us to make rapid progress at Standard.”

Standard Cognition positions itself as an alternative to Amazon Go, according to press releases. The company is actively seeking retailers to partner with for a frictionless checkout experience. The customer experience at Standard Store, the company’s frictionless concept formerly known as Standard Market, is similar to that of Amazon Go. Customers walk in, check in using their phone, grab what they want from the shelves and leave without any physical checkout process. After they leave, a receipt appears on a mobile app on the customer’s phone. Any purchase can be refunded within seven days.

Standard Cognition is joined by other no-checkout concepts, notably Zippin and Skip Checkout, courting retailers for partnership opportunities.

The Explorer.ai team will operate under Rob Ferguson, who recently joined Standard Cognition as vice president of engineering. Ferguson was most recently vice president of technology for Sirius XM, which acquired Automatic Labs where he served as chief technology officer. He has also worked at Cisco and Avid Technology in the past.

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