During his 15 years at Amazon, Dilip Kumar has tackled a diverse set of challenges relating to pricing, supply chain management, and other aspects of the company’s e-commerce business; he also spent two years as technical advisor to CEO Jeff Bezos. But Kumar took on his most unique project when he was named to oversee the technical aspects of Amazon Go, the company’s wildly ambitious effort to build a local grocery that would let customers scan in with a smartphone, take products off shelves, and then leave without checking out. Turning the concept into reality involved designing ceiling-mounted cameras, using AI to identify shoppers and items, and tying it all together with software designed to make the process invisible.
Amazon isn’t saying much about where it plans to take the technology beyond the first Go store, which opened in Seattle in January. But even in its first iteration, what Kumar has built feels like the future of brick-and-mortar retail.