Self-Driving Pick-Up Points: The Future Of Online Retail?

Autonomous supermarkets on wheels are a pretty futuristic idea, but an online retailer from Britain takes another direction — a self-driving pick-up point for groceries. The company successfully completed a ten-day trial in Greenwich.

The world’s largest online-only supermarket Ocando partnered up with tech firm Oxbotica for a ‘real world’ trial of delivering groceries to customers by means of an autonomous vehicle. Costumers who ordered their daily needs have the pick-up point, the so-called CargoPod, come to them, and unlock their groceries by pressing a button on the side of the van to open one of the eight lockers.

During the trial the vehicle was accompanied by two staff members to make sure everything went alright. One of the goals of the trail was to see how it functions in the real world, in real traffic situations and with real people having their groceries delivered. Ocando claims their technology to be ready for mass use in the coming years, if it can make it financially viable for retailers and laws are up to date. As of today, the company produces and sells robots for warehouses and storage centers, as well as shopping apps.

If you think the future of autonomous mobility is just self-driving cars, think again. Last month we featured Robomart, an self-driving supermarket. Meanwhile, other e-commerce companies are experimenting with supermarket concepts with no employees, such as the Amazon Go store, Näraffär Viken, or — slightly less advanced but interesting nonetheless — huge vending machines to counter the eroding shopping climate in shrinking regions.