Stop & Shop to test self-driving mobile stores

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Effort aims to bring shopping venues to customers

QUINCY, Mass. — Ahold Delhaize USA’s Stop & Shop chain said on Wednesday that it will begin deploying driverless grocery vehicles this spring in the Greater Boston area.

Stop & Shop RobomartUnlike the self-driving delivery vehicles being tested by other retailers, which are designed to bring people’s pre-selected online orders to their homes, the ones being tested by Stop & Shop are designed to deliver a mobile shopping experience that will let people pick their own produce and other items. The Ahold Delhaize USA chain is working with Robomart Inc. on the program.

“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,” Stop & Shop president Mark McGowan said in a statement. “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.”

Stop & Shop RobomartStop & Shop customers in the Boston area will be able to summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app. When the vehicle arrivals, customers head outside and use the app to unlock the vehicle’s doors. They then choose the fruits, vegetables, and other products they would like to buy. When they are 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 a checkout-free experience, and receipts are e-mailed within seconds.

“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,” Robomart founder and chief executive officer Ali Ahmed said. “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.”

All 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 to ensure customers are provided with the best selection for purchase, the company said.



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