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AiFi, Verizon Accelerate Autonomous Shopping at the Indy 500

Speed history was made in more than one respect at the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, 2021. As Helio Castroneves careened around the track to join other legends in the four-time winner circle, racing fans buzzed in and out of the Indy Express Shop with a pace to rival Castroneves’ Honda Indy car. 


The efficient NanoStore, powered by AiFi, offered a feature that is picking up momentum all over the world: autonomous checkout. Thanks to AiFi’s innovative combination of cameras and AI computer-vision technology, customers were able to quickly grab snacks, drinks and merch without missing any key parts of the race. 


AiFi Indy 500 autonomous store snacks


Rebecca Russelink, Chief Information Officer at Penske Entertainment, observes that “The NanoStore provides a completely new and futuristic shopping experience for attendees.”


Indeed, the frictionless shopper journey feels like a leap into the world of flying cars that was expected of life in the 21st century. Customers need simply scan their Indy Express Shop app to unlock the store’s doors, make their selections, and head out the door.


A receipt will be promptly available in their app or email, also helping to reduce paper waste. With an accuracy rate of 99%, this seamless experience will save both consumers and merchants a lot of trouble.


AiFi Indy 500 autonomous store merch


During a recent episode of the Retail Rundown, João Diogo Falcão, chief technology officer at AiFi, told RETHINK Retail that the NanoStore concept is a shipping container-sized store that offers drinks, snacks, merchandise for fans to enjoy—all without the hassle of waiting in a long line.


“It’s just the right size for people who want to go in, get their snacks and merchandise and go check out the event,” Falcão said.


This cutting-edge addition could not have reached this event at a better time, with the world finally starting to open back up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In 2020, the race ended up being held with no fans in the stands, a blow for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is the largest sports seating facility in the world with over 250,000 seats. Now with many places tentatively re-opening, the Speedway allowed a maximum of 135,000 seats to be filled, roughly 40% of their full capacity, among other health precautions.


Checkout lines increase interpersonal contact not only cashier-to-customer, but customer-to-customer, and with these checkout-free stores, both are able to be avoided, resulting in a safer experience from every angle.


Indy Express Shop


In addition to safety and simplicity, of course, speed factors in more than just the elimination of needing to scan each individual item. AiFi has partnered with Verizon to run the store on its 5G Ultra Wideband network, for fast and convenient coverage that is much more reliable than Wifi.


The VP of Enterprise Sales for Verizon Business, Andy Brady, comments that partnering with Penske and AiFi is “filled with industry-driving innovation,” and adds that this fusion of entertainment, convenience, and network superpowers “is an exciting moment for us.”


The opening of this unique store at the most widely viewed sporting event of the weekend signals the closing of the most significant interruption of modern life, out of which blossoms new hope and inventive solutions, as humanity continues to race forward.