A convenience store that drives around the neighbourhood by itself with a supply of fresh food: according to American startup Robomart, that is the convenience store’s future. It recently revealed a prototype in Las Vegas.
One of the main attractions at American technology convention CES is a futuristic-looking prototype of a fully automated, self-driving convenience store. It has a product range of fresh food, which it will bring to your door step. It has cooled shelves for about 50 to 100 different fresh food items, like vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat or pastry. The electric car can reach 25 kilometers per hour and a range of about 130 kilometers.
Founder Ali Ahmed considers this type of autonomous self-driving store as a new category, which will compete with delivery robots. Robomart will also compete with local convenience stores or fill in a void in areas without a convenience store. The startup wants to lease its technology to small and large retailers. Advantages are that a car is cheaper than a physical store and that the owners will keep control over vital customer information that companies like Uber or Instacart would otherwise obtain. The consumer advantage is that they do not have to order beforehand.
The idea is similar to Wheelys Moby Mart, a mobile supermarket active in Shanghai since the summer of 2017. Robomart still needs some tweaks: it still needs to find a solution as to when and where it will park. Most cities are also not ready for self-driving vehicles and there are questions regarding scalability: who will resupply the cars and what about theft protection?
CES has more than one autonomous self-driving concept on display: it has Pizza Hut’s autonomous delivery car, developed in collaboration with Toyota. This one should become operational by 2020, to celebrate the Tokyo Olympics. Wait and see…