As it turns out, googly-eyed robots are not the only high-tech hardware Ahold Delhaize USA has planned for its supermarket chain in the U.S. This spring, Stop & Shop will launch driver-less grocery vehicles in Boston, so you can buy meal kits and other convenience items right at your doorstep. Think of Stop & Shop Self-driving Grocery Vehicles as a middle way between shopping online for grocery and traveling to the nearest store. Like, you know, you get to see and choose the actual products, but without the need to spend precious time to travel to a grocery store.
The idea of grocery vehicle is not new, though. It was a practice is S.E.Asia in countries like Singapore and Malaysia back in the 70s/80s where grocers would drive vans loaded with vegetables and other convenience goods to remote villages to sell. But those were really a need as markets could be very far away for folks who had nothing but bicycles with dynamo-powered headlight as transportation. The Stop & Shop Self-driving Grocery Vehicles, on the other hand, would be just another modern day convenience, not a necessity.
Also, Stop & Shop Self-driving Grocery Vehicles is another way for Stop & Shop to reach out to more people without investing in more brick-and-mortar stores. And did we mention that this grocery store on wheels is on-demand? Yup. It sure is. This means, customers in the Boston area will be able to summon the grocery vehicle with a smartphone app.
“Upon the vehicle’s arrival, they head outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors and then personally select the fruits, vegetables and other products they would like to purchase. When finished shopping, they simply close the doors and send the vehicle on its way. The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision technology automatically records what customers select to provide for a checkout-free experience, with receipts emailed within seconds.”
Well, it sure sounds like Stop & Shop Self-driving Grocery Vehicles is the wheeled version of Amazon’s cashier-free store, doesn’t it? Anywho, the Stop & Shop Self-driving Grocery Vehicles is part of an engagement with San Francisco-based startup Robomart. These Robomart vehicles are autonomous, electrically driven and remotely manned from a Robomart facility. Wait. So, it is not quite self-driving, is it then? Check out how Robomart works in the video below.
Images: Ahold Delhaize USA.