An Automated, Self-Driving Grocery Store Opens in Shanghai

Thu. June 15th, 2017
- by Robert Schaulis     

SHANGHAI, CHINA – Bringing futuristic concepts into the present, a fully-automated, self-driving grocery store has hit the streets in Shanghai. This new store concept entitled “Moby” operates without human staff, boasts no lines, and can steer itself back to a warehouse for resupply whenever necessary or convenient.

According to a report from Popular Mechanics, shoppers must first download an app in order to gain entrance to and pay for items in the mobile store. Consumers are greeted by a hologram and checkout is as easy as walking items out the door—at which point they are automatically scanned and charged to your account.

Moby is capable of operating 24-hours each day (excluding resupply times) and is powered, in part, by solar panels on its roof. The store is the product of a collaborative effort between an offshoot of Swedish company Wheelys called Himalayafy and China’s Hefei Unversity.  

Moby Self Driving Grocery Store, Photo Credit: Wheelys

Despite its futuristic façade and its prototype being launched in cosmopolitan Shanghai, Moby was developed, in part, to service rural communities seemingly left behind by modernization.

Tomas Mazetti, Co-Founder, Wheelys

"I grew up in the countryside in Northern Sweden," Wheelys Co-Founder Tomas Mazetti told tech news source Fast Company. "The last store closed there in the 1980s sometime, and after that, everyone just commuted into the city, but that takes an hour. A little piece of the village died. Now, suddenly, in a place like that, the village can team up and buy one of these stores. If the village is really small, [the store] can move around to different villages."

Popular Mechanics notes that a mass-produced mobile store like Moby could cost as little as $30,000—with additional logistics and support costs as well. The company also makes small mobile carts that cost only $1,800.

Moby Self Driving Grocery Store, Photo Credit: Wheelys

Could this innovative approach be the future of grocery retail, bringing fresh food to consumers 24-hours a day in futuristic fashion? AndNowUKnow will continue to report on this and other innovations in our industry.