If you live in select neighborhoods in LA this summer, you won’t have to wait for that familiar ice cream truck jingle before running outside to grab a cold treat.
That’s because you can order one to come to your house by using the store-hailing app of Robomart via its partnership with Unilever. Last week, the two companies announced they are partnering up to trial a fleet of mobile ice cream shops powered by Robomart’s technology under Unilever’s virtual ice cream brand, The Ice Cream Shop.
Here’s how it works: Customers hail the mobile Ice Cream Shop to their location using Robomart’s mobile app. Once it arrives, the user swipes across the app to open the vehicle’s door. Robomart’s checkout-free system allows customers to select their ice cream and walk away without tapping or pulling out a credit card.
Robomart founder Ali Ahmed told The Spoon that the Ice Cream Shops would run seven days a week for at least 12 hours a day. Robomart employees will drive the stores (interaction with the stores is fully automated) and restock the mobile shops at Robomart operations hubs.
Some might feel that using a Robomart Ice Cream Shop isn’t the same as that iconic childhood experience of hearing that familiar jingle, grabbing your change, and racing outside to grab a treat. This tech-powered approach is also much less accessible than the old-school ice cream truck since it requires someone to have a smartphone and someone old enough to have digital payment capabilities.
Concerns aside, there’s something to be said for being able to bring the ice cream truck to you, mainly because the everyday ice cream truck isn’t so everyday anymore.
For Robomart, the deal follows last year’s rollout of its mobile storefronts in West Hollywood. According to Ahmed, the company now has about 100 Robomarts “booked” under contract. After the trial, Ahmed says Unilever and Robomart plan roll out the Ice Cream Shop in new neighborhoods in LA and into other parts of the country.