• Tech firm markets glorified vending machines where users can buy groceries
  • Startup boasts: ‘Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary’

A tech startup called Bodega that hopes to replace mom-and-pop shops with unmanned boxes that rely on an app and artificial intelligence is facing a massive backlash from immigrant business owners and skeptics across Silicon Valley.

The company, founded by two former Google employees and launched on Wednesday, is marketing five-foot-wide pantries that users can unlock with their smartphones to pick up non-perishable items. There are no humans at the “stores” – which are already stationed in spots like apartment buildings, offices and gyms – and a computer program automatically charges customers’ credit cards, according to Fast Company, which first reported on the startup.

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