According to Quartz, the retail giant Walmart filed a patent application in March for "a Roomba-esque motorized device attached to the underside of a shopping cart."
What would this smart shopping cart be good for, besides making securing groceries feel like playing a video game? Shoppers could use their phones to rule the world communicate with the internet-connected device, which is itself connected to a central computer that enables it to roam through the store using sensors.
Shop the Story
That means that if you're looking for manuka honey and can't find an employee to tell you to check aisle five (right next to the five kinds of turmeric), your shopping cart can guide you there.
Imagine the possibilities: One day, you might be able to program a particular recipe—or dietary restriction, or meal plan—into your shopping cart-computer-robot-mobile and then follow the cart around as it takes you from ingredient to ingredient.
You could also play shopping cart bumper car, though that seems potentially dangerous. We'd also imagine that grocery stores will need a redesign if carts are going to start steering themselves. In New York, at least, store aisles are so narrow that basket-carrying consumers can barely get by without knocking over displays of bagged nuts.
And how fast would these things operate, anyway? Would they be moving slowly enough that an innocent, olive oil-gazing civilian could dive out of the way? And, as our copywriter Olivia Bloom put it, "Until the shopping cart can actually take things off the shelf for you, what is the actual point?" Will we all be following our carts around like lost puppies?