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article imageRobomart is a convenience store that comes to your door

By Karen Graham     Jan 10, 2018 in Technology
Santa Clara - Santa Clara, California-based startup Robomart is a self-driving store that brings the groceries, produce, baked goods and prepared foods of the supermarket to consumers' doorsteps. Consumers will simply tap a button to request the closest Robomart.
While autonomous cars will make it easier to get to the local market or convenience store, at CES 2018, Robomart has unveiled its eponymous driverless, electric, mobile market that not only delivers groceries on demand, but allows customers to select their own fresh produce, costing only a fraction of conventional delivery services to run.
The cost of brick and mortar delivery service
Many brick and mortar grocery stores have introduced delivery services as a way to compete with online delivery sites, but one of the big turnoff's is the ability to actually see and select the fresh produce or cuts of meat the customer wants. And though perishables make up nearly 60 percent of grocery store sales, they only make up about 5.0 percent of delivery sales.
Then there is the added expense of paying for employees to "shop" a customer's order and pack it. Often, a separate delivery service is used, with another cost. According to Robomart, the whole idea behind the autonomous grocery store department on wheels is to get those sales of perishable items, from bakery goods to meats and fresh produce.
Consumers will simply tap a button to request the closest robomart.
Consumers will simply tap a button to request the closest robomart.
How to use the Robomart
To use Robomart, a customer will order it using a Smartphone app, much like a ride-sharing service. Once it arrives, the shopper unlocks the door, makes a selection and then closes the door. Robomart has a "grab and go" checkout-free technology that adds up the bill and sends a receipt.
Robomart has already built its first prototype and is seeking an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from California's Department of Motor Vehicles. “I believe we’re creating a new category,” Ahmed says. “We think we’re competing with the sidewalk robots," and this is an issue Robomart will have to take into consideration, especially in California and other states who have placed restrictions on sidewalk robot delivery systems.
State-of-the-art  patent pending technology to enable fully autonomous grocery shopping.
State-of-the-art, patent pending technology to enable fully autonomous grocery shopping.
The convenience store on wheels
Basically, the Robomart is a Sprinter Van-sized delivery vehicle outfitted with an array of LiDAR, radar and cameras, as well as a CAN motion control system and enough route planning and obstacle avoidance software to give it a Level 5 autonomy.
The Robomart also comes equipped with a fully electric drivetrain with an estimated 80-mile range, 25 mph top speed and a HEVO wireless charging system. Hevo has three basic components, an app that is synched with the Cloud, a surface mounted power station and a wireless receiver.
The cargo area in the vehicle can be either refrigerated or heated, and Ahmed says he’s talked to wholesalers about equipping separate trucks to mimic different sections of a grocery aisle — from dairy to poultry, to meat, to vegetables. Additionally, the Robomart system allows grocers to gather consumer sales data, expand their store footprint without investing in new property, and manage their Robotmart fleet orders, routing, restocking and teleoperations.
A delivery rover developed by Starship Technologies.
A delivery rover developed by Starship Technologies.
Photo: Mardus
Startup Robomart
Robomart is the culmination of a ten-year vision from founder Ali Ahmed, Robomart is an autonomous grocery store department on wheels. Ahmed first conceived the idea of a rolling grocery store while an employee at Unilever ten years ago. He went on to found LuteBox in the U.K. in 2011.
The London-based entrepreneur then moved on to the now-defunct Dispatch, a competitor to the U.S.-based on-demand concierge services like Magic. But, after investors bought Ahmed out of Dispatch, the entrepreneur moved to Santa Clara, Calif. to start Robomart.
More about robomart, ces2018, Convenience store, autonomous, Nvidia startup
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