BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a fascinating idea, have the grocery store come to you. But do we want a vehicle without a driver in it, cruising the streets? The developer says it’s safe, but officials aren’t saying “yes” right away.
It’s called Robomart. A promotional video about the vehicle calls it “the world’s first driverless grocery store.” It’s the brainchild of a California company, but the Massachusetts based Stop and Shop chain wants to have them on our streets by the spring.
How does it work? An app lets you summon the vehicle which is stocked with fruit, vegetables and other products. Make your selection, and you’re automatically billed, and the Robomart continues on its way.
“I think it’s a really nifty idea for someone who might be stuck at home,” says one Bostonian after viewing that promotional video.
The thing is, there’s no driver in the vehicle. Instead it’s remotely driven by someone in a different location. “I’m a little concerned about the remote controlled driving and how dangerous that could be,” says another downtown pedestrian.
Some officials are concerned as well. Boston’s Transportation Dept. says there are rules that must be followed, telling us in a statement: “Prior to any type of autonomous technology being utilized on City of Boston streets, a company must apply to go through that process.”
But the Robomart’s creator says it’s not truly autonomous since a person will always be in control. And that could be the rub going forward with Robomart’s creator saying they don’t need to go through autonomous vehicle testing. But state and local officials control the streets. So far, conversations between the various parties have been very preliminary.