Posted on: 06/28/2017 Posted by: Emma Tucker Comments: 0

Retail startup Wheelys has designed a prototype self-driving supermarket that navigates to different locations throughout the day and uses artificially intelligent holograms to help customers.

The vehicle is designed to be almost completely self sufficient, relying on software that tracks its inventory and alerts the Moby-Mart when it’s time to restock.

It runs from an electrical engine, powered by solar panels placed on the roof – which is also home to four drones, available to deliver larger items to nearby customers.

Wheelys is currently collaborating with the Hefei Technical University in China to incorporate self-driving technology, although the store’s ability to drive itself is also dependent on countries developing laws that allow autonomous vehicles on the roads.

With this in place, the Moby-Mart could drive to areas where it is in-demand, and take itself back to the warehouse to pick up new stock. Currently it can be driven in-person or controlled remotely.

Wheelys has also created a hologram store assistant, powered by artificial intelligence, which can keep a note of shopping habits and make recipe recommendations.

These virtual attendants would use the cloud to form a network that tracks worldwide behaviour, and allows Moby-Marts to tailor products to specific areas. It also means stores can remain open around the clock, without having to rely on human staff.

“Mobile stores are much more efficient than physical ones,” co-founder Per Cromwell told Dezeen. “Mobile stores can serve business areas during the day and residential areas during evenings and weekends. They can also serve the countryside or vacation areas in a smarter way.”

All purchases would be made through an app, meaning queues are eliminated, and customers would be required to be members – which Wheelys believes will eliminate the risk of theft.

Wheelys was set up in 2014, and initially focused on selling all-in-one coffee stands – which received over €350,000 of support on crowdfunding site FundedByMe within the first 18 hours of launch. In 2016 the company also acquired Näraffär – a system of staff-free stores that opened in Sweden in the same year.

The Moby-Mart is currently being beta tested in Shanghai, but Wheelys hopes to start deploying units in 2018, expecting them to cost around $100,000 (£78,000).

Self-driving vehicles are rapidly becoming a reality, with Apple recently joining a list of companies approved to test them on California’s roads. Uber has been working on developing driverless taxis in partnership with Daimler, while Google’s Waymo is working working on minivans together with Chrysler.

Meanwhile, BMW has said it is collaborating with psychologists to design cars that befriend their passengers, putting them at ease when they’re not in control of the wheel.

The post Wheelys’ Moby-Mart is a self-driving store with a holographic shop assistant appeared first on Dezeen.