LG Electronics
LG Electronics is developing a smart shopping cart robot alongside E-mart Inc. Getty Images/Pau Barrena

LG Electronics has entered into a partnership agreement with South Korea’s largest retailer, E-mart Inc., to produce robotic shopping carts that follow and assist customers at supermarkets.

LG and E-mart inked the deal early this week, according to Korea Herald. Generally speaking, the agreement is for the development and commercialization of retail service robots, including a smart shopping cart.

What this robotic shopping cart does is follow customers wherever they go inside supermarkets. Since they can move on their own, shoppers won’t have to worry about having to push heavy carts around just to move their grocery items with them.

“By actively engaging in the development of (a commercialized) smart cart, E-mart will continue to drive the future digital shopping environment,” E-mart Strategy Division’s Hyung Tae-jun said.

E-mart has been pushing for a robotic shopping experience since early this year. In April, the company test-operated Korea’s first autonomous shopping cart at its warehouse-style supermarket, called Traders, in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province.

The shopping cart, dubbed “Eli,” featured smart sensors for human voice detection and obstacle recognition. It came with an LCD screen that displayed the locations of the products sold at the store. Eli also had a payment function that utilized a built-in sensor to scan bar codes.

For LG and E-mart’s joint project, the former’s research lab would be the one to develop the smart shopping cart, Yonhap has learned. It’s not clear if the machine is going to debut under LG’s CLOi brand of robots.

So far, LG’s CLOi — stands for clever, clear, close operating intelligence — has eight products that are designed to carry out different tasks, such as guiding, cleaning, and even mowing the lawn. The latest device to join the lineup is the CLOi SuitBot, a wearable robot that helps workers lift and move heavy objects.