Stop & Shop will launch driverless grocery vehicles in the greater Boston area beginning in spring 2019.
The vehicles will bring a selection of produce as well as meal kits and convenience items directly to consumers, so they can shop right at their doorsteps, the company said. Part of an engagement with startup Robomart, the vehicles will address consumers’ desires to select their own fresh produce when shopping via online or mobile. The engagement will also offer the potential for Stop & Shop to expand beyond its existing brick-and-mortar footprint.
Stop & Shop customers in the Boston area will be able to 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 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, the company said.
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.
“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.”