This spring, Stop & Shop is partnering with San Francisco-based company Robomart to distribute remote-controlled mobile grocery stores around the Greater Boston area, but the legal feasibility of this project remains questionable, according to a Jan. 18 Boston Globe article

According to WCVB Channel 15, while other companies such as Amazon and Walmart are looking to simply deliver groceries using drones and other machines, Stop & Shop’s goal is to deliver a selection of groceries to shop from. The vehicles contain a selection of food and are controlled by operators through radio links, according to the same Boston Globe article. Consumers can see the produce and select the items they want. After selecting the items they want, the customer is automatically charged without having to go through a checkout line, according to WCVB Channel 15. The goal is to make grocery shopping convenient for consumers. 

However, the vehicles have not yet been tested on roads. According to the Boston Globe article, such a project would require “multiple approvals from state agencies, the State Police, and local police in communities where the vans would operate.” William M. Straus, former chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, said in the same article that it would “surprise” him if a proposal to further Stop & Shops’ initiative were approved. 

In fact, Straus says, new laws will have to be adopted for all remote-controlled vehicles. For example, in the event that the operator controlling the vehicle is drunk, a police officer would not be able to conduct a blood alcohol test on the operator. 

Strauss says that until laws to address such issues are created, Stop & Shops’ vehicles “shouldn’t be allowed on the road.”