Startup delivers groceries in self-driving cars

San Francisco (AFP) –


Startup AutoX on Monday announced the Silicon Valley debut of a service that will turn self-driving cars into mobile grocery shops summoned with a touch of a smartphone application.

The service will kick off this month in parts of the California city of San Jose in a partnership with e-commerce company which sources food from producers as well as retail shops such as Amazon-owned Whole Foods.

"We're very excited to launch the first autonomous grocery delivery and mobile store service in the heart of Silicon Valley with self-driving vehicles on the road,? said AutoX founder and chief executive Jianxiong Xiao.

"We believe self-driving car technologies will fundamentally change people?s daily lives for the better."

The AutoX application can be used to place grocery orders to be delivered in cars designed to keep produce chilled, according to the startup.

Customers uncertain of what they want in advance will also be able to have cars pull up and open windows so they can browse selections, AutoX said. A human back-up driver will be on board as required by local regulations.

AutoX vehicles rely on high-resolution camera gear instead of more costly sensors and laser arrays for navigation.

The grocery delivery and mobile store pilot program will roll out in San Jose, then expand to Google's home city Mountain View and Palo Alto, where Stanford University is located.