Moby Mart is a futuristic-sounding store that drives to your location when you order items.
The store is controlled by semi artificial-intelligence with holographic cashiers and store clerks to assist you as you shop. The store is even equipped with “microdrones” on the top of the car that enables it to make door side deliveries and float to high apartment windows.
Although many aspects of the Mart have yet to come to fruition, there is already a prototype operating in Shanghai as part of a collaboration between China’s Hefei University and a Swiss company called Wheelys; which opened a 24/7 cashierless shop in the same location.
Lead designer of Moby Mart, Per Cromwell, told NPR the business model of this store is the result of his desire to bring together all the benefits of in-person and online ordering:
“Stores needs to be more flexible to meet the demands of the future. Rents will go up in prime locations, margins will go down on a lot of products due to online retail. Stores need to become more efficient. Mobile and staffless is to date the most flexible and efficient solution. When online and offline merge a new kind of store is needed.”
Four to six more Moby Marts will arrive in the coming year, with hundreds more planned for deployment in 2018, and they’ll begin by selling things like food, groceries, and coffee. But they’ll likely expand to other industries, too to compete with Amazon Go.