Japan begins tests of self-driving ‘ice cream van’ that has a ‘mind of its own’

Technology has made food shopping almost too convenient, but one day you won't even need to wait for a Deliveroo driver to arrive—at least, if one Japanese company has its way.

Kyocera Communication Systems is developing an unmanned vending machine on wheels capable of driving itself around cities handing out snacks.

The AI vehicle is being tested in Chiba City in Japan, where it will follow a predetermined route around town between 10AM and 6PM five days a week

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The little car will take itself on a jaunt around parks, shopping centres, and apartments selling snacks, chocolate, hot and cold drinks, and even cold desserts like jelly and ice cream.

Japan already has one vending machine per 34 members of the population, offering convenient access to refreshments on almost every street for Japan's 125-million strong population.

However, if the roaming vehicle—which doesn't have a name yet—catches on, vending machines could one day even outnumber people, removing the need for shops entirely.

At first, the car will be constantly monitored to ensure it doesn't cause any accidents or get hijacked, which seems to defeat the point of getting rid of a driver.

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This isn't the first self-driving shop. Last year in Cologne, German retailer REWE rolled out its Snack Mobil, Europe's first self-driving shop kiosks.

Customers can buy treats from the Snack Mobil using contactless payments on card or smartphone.

It was rolled out to the town after successful trials. Like the Japanese vending machine, it follows a predetermined path set by its creators on a 'virtual rail network'.

It also has a number of smart sensors which will stop it from colliding with anyone if it detects pedestrians in its path.


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