Imagine an Amazon Go - but on wheels.
Swedish startup Wheelys has come up with a cashier-less, driver-less store called Moby Mart. But unlike Amazon Go, which is stationary and based in Seattle, Moby Mart is now cruising down the streets of Shanghai. It's a completely autonomous store that you can locate via an app and access 24 hours a day. It's stocked with basic foods, including snacks, as well as over-the-counter medicine and magazines.
Moby Mart, which is about the size of a small bus, is a prototype for now that's controlled by humans, but ultimately, it hopes to one day use a combination of artificial intelligence and computer vision to navigate. There are no lines, no cashiers, and no cash. You simply locate and enter the vehicle, then scan the items you want, and the Moby Mart app will check you out. It can even re-stock on its own.
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Moby Mart is solar-powered and can communicate with other Moby Mart vehicles. It can also notify a warehouse when it's running low on goods and then drives itself over to fill back up. But that's not all: there are drones atop Moby Mart that can deliver products within a three-mile radius. We got the impression that customers can not only locate Moby Mart via the app, but also summon the mobile stores.
Wheelys partnered with a Chinese university on the prototype and has been testing it in Shanghai for the past two months. It's now just gone live, and amazingly, there are plans to produce more of them in 2018. According to Forbes, Wheelys said they're available for as little as $4,000. It's already sold roughly 850 units in 70 countries.
Ladies and gents, the future is now.
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