Most of the time, we tend to see autonomous vehicles (AV) as a personal means of locomotion. However, self-driving technology is far more disruptive than that. Grocery stores are certainly not going to like the idea in this piece — unless they jump onboard early.
An Autonomous Self-Driving Store That Comes To You
Low-income neighborhoods usually don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to food. Generic-brand grocery stores and fast-food places are mostly all there is. Quality food is hard to find, which also explains the alarming level of health problems in those communities. How about bringing food to those neighborhood using AVs? That’s what Robomart wants to do. It’s a self-driving grocery coming soon to a city near you — perhaps.
The business model is intriguing. Robomart wants to build a fleet of on-demand, self-driving (AV Level 5) stores licensed to grocery retailers. It would be sold as an on-demand delivery service vehicle anywhere in the world. Retailers would stock the AVs and send them off to clients. Customers would use the “grab and go” checkout system and get charged for the purchases later.
Of course, you’re probably thinking of Amazon’s grocery system by now. But the company says that home delivery systems where humans pick and deliver groceries is too expensive. Also, it found that consumers don’t trust someone else picking produce for them.
The groceries industry is about to hit the $1 trillion mark worldwide, with fresh produce making up about 60% of that, and only 5% is done online, according to the site that quotes Kantar Worldpanel. That’s the niche Robomart is hoping to get into.
The company says it has conducted research and run surveys that concluded that more than 85% of women between 26–44 in the US do not shop for fruits and vegetables online. They felt home delivery was too expensive and that they wanted to pick their own produce. According to the company, they found that almost 65% would order if such a system would conveniently come to their home more than once a week.
Automating Grocery Shopping
The idea of automating grocery shopping is not new, but Robomart takes an innovative approach by having its self-driving grocery store reach the clients with what they need when they need it. The company sees people using a system to request the closest robomart self-driving grocery store. Once it arrives, they go outside and shop. After the door closes, the AV is sent on its way back to its home facility.
We can see a few more applications coming out of this. For one thing, we could see a few AVs circulating along neighborhoods as described above. Some could even have specific groceries for different areas, depending on the general tastes of the community. They could also gravitate towards squares and green spaces where people could easily get from their homes and pick up groceries. We can also see those AVs being at large workplaces at the end of the day as people get out of work and bring back groceries home. The applications are many and far reaching, pun intended.
Is The Future Of Grocery Shopping At Your Doorstep?
Robomart’s idea certainly answers a few nagging problems with traditional grocery shopping and home-delivery systems. Traditional grocery shopping can be a drag, and the lines sometimes automated but not working well is a complete turnoff for many of us. On the other hand, we’ve had home delivery services since the late 1990s and never really cared for them. Simply put, we like to go out and pick out the food we will prepare. In many ways, the Robomart self-driving grocery store idea gets us out of the house and picking our home food, but where we want and how we want it. Is it the magic solution people have been waiting for?