Cologne A rolling kiosk without a driver or salesperson: Rewe and Vodafone have been testing what the companies say is "Europe's first autonomously driving kiosk" in Cologne since Wednesday. The Snackmobil is designed to provide passersby with snacks and drinks at Cologne's Carlswerk commercial campus.
"We are bringing autonomous vehicles from the test site into reality," said Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter at the project launch. The Snackmobil is scheduled to drive around the commercial campus at Carlswerk in a continuous loop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. after the launch phase. The six-kilometer speed vehicle will be guided by cameras, sensors and modern mobile communications technology, which will serve as a virtual rail network. If passers-by threaten to cross its path, the vehicle stops automatically. For safety, it is initially accompanied by a human attendant.
A brief wave is all that is needed for the rolling kiosk to stop and shopping to begin. The vehicle also drives to predefined stops. The purchase is paid for contactlessly, for example with a smartphone. The test is scheduled to last at least until September.
Several German retail chains are currently testing ways to digitize stationary shopping. Edeka, for example, is testing a highly automated Tiny Store in Renningen, Baden-Württemberg, which does not require any sales staff. And competitor Tegut is already operating three mini stores without sales staff in the greater Fulda area.
(Original text: ga, Translation: Mareike Graepel)