Stop & Shop to launch self-driving grocery stores

Credit: Robomart

Credit: Robomart

US supermarket chain Stop & Shop this week announced plans to launch driverless grocery vehicles in the coming months, offering a selection of produce directly to customers’ doorsteps at the touch of a button.

The retailer has partnered with San Francisco-based startup Robomart to test the self-driving stores in the hope that they could help the company grow beyond its existing brick-and-mortar footprint.

Stop & Shop customers will be able to order a Robomart vehicle using a smartphone app. When the vehicle arrives, customers can unlock the doors and choose from a selection of fruit and vegetables as well as meal kits and convenience items.

When finished, they just close the doors and send the vehicle on its way. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and computer vision technology automatically records what customers select to provide a checkout-free experience, with receipts e-mailed within seconds.

“This is one way in which we’re leveraging new technology to make shopping easier for our customers – by essentially bringing the store to them,” said Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop president.

“We also recognize that many of our customers want the opportunity to make their own choices when it comes to fresh produce, and we’re proud to be the first retailer to engage with Robomart to address our customers’ needs with their cutting-edge solution.”

Robomart vehicles are autonomous, electric and will be remotely piloted from a Robomart facility. Throughout the journey, the teleoperated vehicles will be restocked with fresh Stop & Shop goods.

“For decades, consumers had the convenience of their local greengrocer and milkman coming door to door, and we believe that by leveraging driverless technology we can recreate that level of convenience and accessibility,” said Ali Ahmed, founder and CEO of Robomart.

“We’re extremely excited to bring our vision to life with Stop & Shop, one of the most pioneering and forward-thinking grocery chains in the world.”

The vehicles will be launched in the greater Boston area in Spring 2019.

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