Stop & Shop Launches Driverless Grocery Vehicles in Boston

Beginning this spring, Stop & Shop will bring part of the store to customers in the Greater Boston area via driverless grocery vehicles.

The vehicles will carry produce, meal kits and convenience items, allowing customers to shop right outside their front door, according to a news release. Customers who prefer to shop online will now have the opportunity to select their own fresh produce as well as other items.

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Stop & Shop is partnering with San Francisco startup Robomart for the Boston trial. The engagement also offers the potential for Stop & Shop to expand beyond its existing brick-and-mortar stores.

“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. “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.”

Boston-based customers will use a smartphone app to call a Robomart vehicle when they’re ready to shop. After they’ve unlocked the vehicle and made their selections, they just have to close the door and the vehicle will leave for its next stop. Through Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and computer vision technology, the vehicles will automatically record every customer’s selections. Receipts for purchases will be sent via email a few seconds after customers finish shopping.

The autonomous, electric vehicles, which will be remotely piloted from a Robomart facility, will be continuously restocked.

“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 & CEO of Robomart, according to the release. “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.”

For more on other retailers testing driverless delivery, read Test Driving Driverless Delivery.