Thousands of years ago, our ancestors hunted and foraged for food, squeezing whatever sustenance they could from the land around them. Later, some clever folks learned to domesticate animals and cultivate crops, bringing the food they needed into their own communities. By the time our grandparents were around, it was easy to walk down the street to the local butcher or baker to make a purchase, and now today every street corner seems to be dotted with 7-Elevens, QuikTrips and FamilyMarts. Strolling through the familiar doors to pick up a Big Bite® and Big Gulp®, you might think to yourself that our species has reached the pinnacle of convenience.
Wrong. What’s that outside the window? You set your lukewarm Buffalo Chicken Taquito back onto its roller and rush over to see a hulking, mechanical behemoth quietly approach the storefront. Completely devoid of life, the machine addresses you in your human dialect:
“Beep, boop, beep. I am Moby Mart. Your human race is obsolete. Please enjoy a fresh-brewed coffee and some goji berries.”
This is (essentially) the narrative portrayed in the Moby Mart promotional video. The concept store is produced by Wheelys, an international chain of bicycle cafés, in collaboration with Hefei University and Himalafy future retail systems. The normal Wheelys model is about empowering everyday people to be entrepreneurs, by equipping them with Wheelys-branded bicycle cafés at low startup costs. But this most recent project sees them cutting out people altogether.
Moby Mart is “the world’s first autonomous, staff-less, mobile store.” You summon it with an app like you would an Uber, and the giant store starts to roll its way over to you. It’s solar-powered, has vending machines on the outside, and stocks pharmaceutical and emergency medical equipment. It can also make deliveries via drone, and even has a holographic store clerk to keep you company while our carbon lifeform civilization crumbles around us. The future is here, and it’s terrifying.
The store is currently beta testing in Shanghai. We’ll let you know if we get to try it out for ourselves. Check out the promotional video and let us know if it’s genius or diabolical.