Retail in Asia

In Trends

The next big supermarket innovation is driverless… shopping trolleys?


Google, Uber, Ford, even Apple are exploring driverless cars, but the first self-driving innovation in our lives might arrive in the supermarket.

On a mission to solve the age-old conundrum of “where did I leave my shopping trolley?”, American grocery chain Walmart is apparently working on a next generation driverless cart.

According to a patent it was awarded on the invention last week, the trolley can be summoned by a smartphone and is controlled by a central computer which means it can navigate the store itself using cameras and sensors.

The real magic in Walmart’s application is that the trolley isn’t just for saving your arms from pushing, or following you around, the smart trolley might also be able to guide you to the things you’re looking for.

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No more pestering busy store attendants to ask where the milk has moved too, soon your trolley could just take you there.

We can already think of some other ways driverless trolleys could come to the rescue during our weekly shop, conveniently parking themselves rather than being abandoned in the middle of the isle, or returning themselves once you’ve unloaded at the car.

Walmart hints at the opportunities in its filing:

“Other routine tasks also are difficult to keep up with, particularly during peak hours. For example, shopping carts are left abandoned, aisles become messy…”
As with any patent, there’s no guarantee that this invention will ever see the light of day, or even if it does arrive it will be anywhere near as helpful as the patent filing suggests.

But here’s hoping.

(Source: The MEMO)