Stop & Shop to Deploy Self-Driving Grocery Stores

Robomart’s autonomous units bring options to the consumer
stop & shop
Photograph courtesy of Stop & Shop

QUINCY, Mass. -- In partnership with San Francisco-based startup Robomart, Stop & Shop will launch driverless grocery delivery vehicles in the Boston area beginning spring 2019.

Unlike the Nuro self-driving delivery vehicles from Kroger or the smaller self-driving coolers that deliver preordered groceries, the vehicles from Robomart are more akin to a pantry or convenience store on wheels. Instead of placing an order for prepicked items on their mobile device, customers place an order for a Robomart, which drives itself to their location and allows them to pick the produce or other items available.

Each Robomart vehicle is fully electric, and includes driverless tech, teleoperations, frictionless checkout and refrigeration.

“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, president of Stop & Shop. “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.”

Once a customer orders a Robomart using their mobile device and it arrives, customers may unlock the doors with their smartphone app. They then personally select the fruits, vegetables and other products they would like to purchase, close the doors and send the vehicle on its way. The vehicle’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) and computer vision technology record what customers select for a frictionless checkout experience. Receipts are emailed within seconds of the transaction.

“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 and electric; however, due to safety regulations, Robomart will remotely pilot the vehicles from a Robomart facility at first. Retailers using Robomart can use their locations as replenishment centers while Robomart handles vehicle maintenance. Retailers using Robomart can set their own delivery fee, but the expectation is that Robomart delivery will not require a delivery fee, according to Ahmed.

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, based in Quincy, Mass., is a unit of Ahold Delhaize USA. It operates more than 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

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