Shopping for fresh produce online has always been a bit of a gamble, since you're not actually selecting the fruits and veggies yourself. Santa Clara, California–based startup Robomart aims to change that by bringing online produce shopping to your front door.
The company, as part of NVIDIA's deep learning/AI "Inception Program," has developed what is essentially a self-driving bodega on wheels. The concept relies on a Sprinter-van-size 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 notch Level 5 autonomy -- the highest level a self-driving vehicle can achieve, requiring no human driver whatsoever. What's more, the vehicles use a fully electric drivetrain with an estimated 80-mile range and a top speed of 25 mph and come equipped with the HEVO wireless charging system.
The cargo area of the vehicle will be refrigerated and offer multiple shelves of various types of produce (at least for the pilot program). To use the service, shoppers will order the vehicle much like a ridesharing service. Once it arrives, the shopper unlocks and opens the door, then makes his or her selection. A proprietary "grab and go" checkout system tracks which products are removed from the vehicle, then automatically bills the shopper's account and generates an online receipt.
The company is currently awaiting its Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the California DMV but expects to have it soon and plans to launch a pilot program in the Bay Area this summer.
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