Stop & Shop to launch driverless grocery vehicles

US grocer Stop & Shop will launch driverless grocery vehicles in Boston, Massachusetts, the company has announced.

The new venture is a collaboration with San Francisco-based start-up Robomart. It will see vehicles bring a selection of Stop & Shop produce, meal kits and convenience items directly to consumers.

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

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

How it works

Stop & Shop customers in the Boston area can summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app. When it arrives, customers head outside and unlock the vehicle’s doors. They then personally select the fruits, vegetables and other products they’d like to buy. When they’ve finished shopping, they simply close the doors and send the vehicle on its way.

The vehicles’ RFID [radio-frequency identification] and computer vision technology automatically record what customers select to provide a checkout-free experience. Customers receive email receipts within seconds.

‘Convenience and accessibility’

Robomart says all its vehicles are autonomous, electric and will be remotely piloted from a Robomart facility.

The broad ambition, suggests Robomart founder and CEO Ali Ahmed, is to bring back a lost era of consumer convenience.

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

He also expressed his enthusiasm in partnering up with Stop & Shop.

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

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