Changes in our buying behavior have had quite a detrimental effect on High St shopping, with many brick and mortar stores now displaying a permanent closed sign in the window. Moby Mart is hoping to bring back the local store experience by combining modern technology with drop in shopping.

Moby rolled out its first self-driving 24 hour mobile convenience store prototype in the middle of 2017. Customers visiting the Moby Alpha pod used a companion app running on a smartphone to unlock the door, pick items off the shelves, scan them and check out once the shopping trip was complete.

The store automatically charged the shopper's saved credit card upon exit, and the facility to place special orders could also be included in the design, allowing customers to pick up packages from the pod at a later time.

Now the company has announced a Moby Psi OTG flavor, its first off-the-grid, standalone, staff-free retail pod.

Power needs for an installed pod can be met by equipping the Psi with optional solar panels and batteries.

Again customers make use of an app to purchase goods, and are greeted by an AI virtual assistant upon entering. A smart shelves system (currently in beta) makes a note of everything that's removed by customers, so inventory can be automatically re-ordered and replenished by the store operator, who can keep track of stock online, together with customer payment details and so on.

The steel-framed Psi measures 4.6 x 2.2 x 2.5 meters (15 x 7.2 x 8.2 ft), and is kitted out with security systems, 1080p cameras and sensors to keep watch over what happens when a registered customer is in the store, though a store membership system should discourage shoppers from abusing the setup.

Indeed, Moby says that its test stores have recorded less than 0.1 percent shrinking (theft), compared to an industry standard of 1-2 percent. But if the operator notices something amiss, the pod's built-in Sonos speaker system can be accessed remotely to warn off would-be thieves.

Sensors inside can also be used to regulate the temperature, ensuring a pleasant shopping experience for all.

Psi pod operators are being offered the Psi for a starting price of US$25,000, with Moby saying it can keep costs down by prefabricating the pods and moving all computer processing needs to the cloud.

Source: Moby Mart

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