Stop & Shop said it will launch a fleet of driverless grocery vehicles offering produce, meal kits and convenience items directly to consumers who can shop at their doorsteps.
The vehicles, which resemble robotic food trucks and offer a checkout-free pay experience, come in partnership with the San Francisco-based startup Robomart. Officials said the offering would provide an efficient solution for customers who prefer to “pick their own” fresh foods and still enjoy the convenience of home delivery.
While launching in the Boston area, Stop & Shop, the Quincy, Mass.-based division of Ahold Delhaize, said the partnership also offers the potential for Stop & Shop to expand beyond its existing brick-and-mortar footprint.
“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,” Mark McGowan, Stop & Shop’s president, 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 said its customers can summon a Robomart vehicle with a smartphone app. Upon the 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’ radio-frequency identification (RFID) and computer vision technology automatically records what customers select to provide a checkout-free experience, and receipts are emailed 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,” said Ali Ahmed, founder and CEO of Robomart. “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.