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Moby Mart
Don’t call an Uber for a ride to the store. Call the store. (Moby Mart Photo)

If Amazon Go ever really gets going with its ultra-convenient convenience store plan, it may be too late if Moby Mart becomes a rolling reality.

NPR reported this week on a mini market that doesn’t just rely on your mobile phone for access and payment. It’s actually mobile, as in it will come to you. The autonomous, staffless, mobile store “turns every parking space in the world into a potential new 24-hour store,” its website says.

And it’s not science fiction — it’s currently being beta tested in Shanghai. Amazon Go is in the midst of the same process in Seattle, and reports have suggested that there may be snags to getting the self-checkout technology to work for the masses.

Nothing really should surprise us anymore when it comes to summoning services with our smartphones. We already call for rides from Uber or Lyft and it seems drone-delivered pizza isn’t too far off in the future. Why not bring an entire store to your block when you need a Hot Pocket after a night of clubbing?

A video showing off the concept looks like something out of “Blade Runner,” a movie that was set in a 2019 version of the future, if you remember.

And NPR points out that driverless technology could be part of the Moby Mart game down the road for the collaborative effort between Hefei University in China and the Switzerland-based company Wheelys.

Per Cromwell, lead designer for the project, told NPR via email from Stockholm that stores needs to be more flexible to meet the demands of the future.

“Rents will go up in prime locations, margins will go down on a lot of products due to online retail,” Cromwell said. “Stores need to become more efficient. Mobile and staffless is to date the most flexible and efficient solution. When online and offline merge, a new kind of store is needed.”

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