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Stop & Shop to launch self-driving mobile grocery stores

US retailer Stop & Shop says it will launch “driverless grocery vehicles” in the Greater Boston area beginning in Spring 2019.

The vehicles will bring a selection of Stop & Shop produce as well as meal kits and convenience items directly to consumers, so they can shop right at their doorsteps.

The initiative is part of an engagement with San Francisco-based startup Robomart, which designed and built the vehicles. 

Stop & Shop says the vehicles will address consumers’ desires to select their own fresh produce when shopping via online or mobile and will deliver an even more convenient grocery shopping experience for customers in the Boston area.

The partnership will also offer the potential for Stop & Shop to expand beyond its existing brick-and-mortar footprint.

Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop president, says: “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.

“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 customers in the Boston area can summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app.

Upon the Robomart vehicle’s arrival, customers head outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors, then personally select the fruits, vegetables, and other products they would like to purchase.

When finished shopping, they just close the doors and send the vehicle on its way.

The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision technology automatically record what customers select to provide a checkout-free experience, and receipts are e-mailed within seconds.

Ali Ahmed, founder and CEO of Robomart, says: “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.

“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.

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