Stop & Shop is bringing autonomous food stands to Boston

They'll be available in the spring.

Forget self-driving grocery delivery cars -- Stop & Shop wants robotic vehicles to bring a chunk of the store to your door. It's launching autonomous grocery vehicles in the greater Boston area that will let you shop for produce, meal kits and "convenience items" (think bread and eggs) just outside your home. You just have to hail one of the Robomart-made cars through a mobile app, unlock the vehicle when it arrives, and pick your food -- a combination of computer vision and RFID tagging automatically flags your purchases. It's not quite Amazon Go on wheels, but it's close.

Boston-based service will be ready sometime in the spring as part of an "engagement" with Robomart. Stop & Shop didn't say how much the service would cost.

The approach could be more practical than straightforward delivery for some. Instead of having to commit to a purchase before the vehicle has even left the store, you can browse on your own terms (albeit from a narrow selection) without having to travel beyond your home. Of course, this is helpful for grocery stores as well. In addition to providing an extra form of revenue, it could expand a store's reach to cover people who can't realistically visit, whether it's due to travel times, physical abilities, or just the lack of a personal car.

Stop & Shop's self-driving grocery car