SHANGHAI, China – For customers who don’t want to drive to a convenience store and don’t want to order online for delivery, there’s a third choice: Summon the convenience store to come to you. Wheely’s Moby self-driving convenience store run by artificial intelligence launched in a beta test this week in Shanghai, New Atlas reports.
Wheely’s has become known for its bicycle coffee cafes. Now the Swedish company has unveiled Moby, its concept traveling convenience store. The initial design includes a driver or remote control guidance, but eventually, Wheely’s hopes to have individual Moby stores traveling on autonomously. Wheely’s developed the prototype with China’s Hefei University and Himalayafy.
Similar to its Wheely 24/7 unmanned convenience stores design, customers access Moby via the Wheely app, which also scans the items to be purchased and automatically charges the credit card account on file. Moby stores also come with four drones on the roof, which can deliver packages to consumers along a designated route.
The Moby units will also keep track of inventory and battery charges automatically. Stock can be replenished from other units as needed. One side of the kiosk features a television screen, which is used as billboards. Other add-ons will include a pharmacy and first aid kit with defibrillator for emergencies.
“The biggest costs to have a store are the place itself to rent in a central city–it’s ultra-expensive–and then staff is really expensive, and we’re removing both of these at the same time,” said Tomas Mazetti, one of the founders of Wheelys, in Fast Company. “I grew up in the countryside in Northern Sweden. … 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.”