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How self-driving vehicles could reroute the customer journey

360 Magazine 
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How self-driving vehicles could reroute the customer journey

PIX Moving self-driving vehicle

Usually when a company talks about its efforts to “meet customers where they are,” it’s a reference to establishing a presence on digital channels such as social media or providing support via text messages.

When companies discuss the prospect of self-driving vehicles, meanwhile, the focus is often on helping consumers travel from place to place in comfort, or to automate delivery processes.

A startup called PIX Moving could redefine both of those concepts with an autonomous chassis to mobilize a wide range of customer experiences.

In a demo video, the Chinese-based firm shows how the bubble-like space that sits on top of the chassis could be customized based on whatever a brand wants to offer. Examples include a small fitness centre that could travel to meet a client, a grocery firm that wants to bring produce to areas that lack access to a nearby supermarket, a podcasting studio to set up outside an event or even aa one-room motel.

According to Chase Cao, PIX Moving’s COO, the self-driving chassis has been under development since 2017, when founder and CEO Angelo Yu began combing his interest in coding with his background in architecture.

“Many self-driving companies are purely replacing the drivers, but actually we believe that self-driving can fundamentally change automobiles and accordingly reshape the city,” Can told 360 Magazine. “Instead of the people going to the city, we believe the more efficient way is one where we can bring the city to the people.”

For retailers, PIX Moving’s chassis could provide a way to launch pop-up shops in a wider variety of locations and settings.

Brands might also turn to something like PIX moving to set up temporary environments around a large event or conference, where they could sell or demonstrate merchandise.

Another possibility might be one where a company offers mobile cowering facilities. In other use cases, Cao raised the possibility of established offices setting up mobile nap rooms or special lounges in which they could welcome their customers safely without having them enter their headquarters. Cao pointed out that, while e-commerce haas surged significantly since COVID-19 broke out last year, there have been obvious trade-offs in the limitations around in-person customer experiences.

“You can purchase something and have it delivered to you, but for some items, you need a store where people and touch and feel products for themselves,” he said.

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Of course, self-driving vehicles remain a controversial idea in many markets, including China and the U.S., where PIX Moving is currently working out how it can adhere to emerging regulations. Some elements of its design help in this area, Cao said. Unlike other self-driving vehicles, for instance, its chassis is electric and low-speed. This means its initial uses might be in more controlled environments than the open roads, he added.

The chassis is also able to easy maneuver into unusual spaces because all four of its wheels can be steered. It is manufactured via a 3D printing process, which reduces its weight and requires fewer parts than traditional automobile manufacturing.

So far PIX Moving has at least one U.S. customer that is trying it as a portable vending machine, Cao said. If it can be more widely deployed, he said it could transform customer experiences by eliminating the time people take travelling to connect with a brand in person.

The chassis could also be equipped with sensors and cameras so that it could detect where there is a critical mass of consumers nearby. It’s not hard to imagine how brands could use mobile apps and other technologies to ensure it can bring an experience to a specific set of customers, or even one.

“The essence of a city is about how people take advantage and use space,” he said. “We want to explore how to empower people to use space in a way that’s liberating.”

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