You’ve just come back from a night out, you’re tired, thirsty and desperately in need of a snack. You pull out your phone, click a button — and a grocery store pulls up in front of you.
That’s essentially the concept behind Moby Mart, an autonomous, self-driving grocery store on wheels. The firm behind it is a Swedish startup aptly named Wheelys Inc.
The Moby Mart, which is about the size of small bus, carries a selection of everyday products like snacks, meals, basic groceries, and even shoes.
Image: moby mart
To use the store, you download an app, register as a customer and use your phone to unlock the door.
You’re greeted by a cashier — an AI hologram. You scan items that you want to buy with your phone or with a smart shopping basket available at the store.
Image: MOBY MART Image: MOBY MART
As you leave the store, sensors automatically track your exit and purchases are charged to your credit card.
Image: MOBY MART
The store is intended to be fully autonomous, and can follow a defined route that will take it to different places throughout the day.
The Moby Mart is undergoing trial in Shanghai right now, thanks to a collaborative effort between Wheelys and China’s Hefei University.
For now, the trial prototype is static — based permanently in a carpark — but the company says that it is currently working with tech companies to develop its self-driving technology.
Future Moby Mart will be even smarter
The company also hints in a video that in future, customers will be able to order a Moby to their exact location.
If the store starts to run low on goods, it will be able to drive its way back to base to be re-stocked, or get replenished from another nearby Moby Mart.
The Moby Mart is planned to have drones on its roof, which will take off with smaller items to bring them right to your doorstep.
Image: MOBY MART
"We’ve tested it [the prototype] on the roads around our assembly plant and in the campus area at Hefei University," Wheelys co-founder Per Cromwell told news outlet news.com.au.
He adds that the company’s goal now is to drum up investment and wait for self-driving vehicles to be "accepted."
He is confident that self-driving stores will soon become the norm.
"Our dream is an entire fleet of self-driving staffless stores…it is the store that comes to you, instead of you coming to the store."
For now, all we can do is wait and see if this does in fact, become a reality.