The robots are coming – with groceries

Robots are heading to Wakefield from today in a partnership between Starship Technologies, Co-op and Wakefield Council intended to bring the benefits of autonomous grocery deliveries to local residents.

The service will initially be available to 13,000 residents across more than 6,500 households, with orders made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android.

Groceries will be picked fresh from the local Co-op store on Meadow Vale, Outwood, and delivered from store to people’s homes.

The launch in Wakefield continues the expansion of autonomous robot deliveries, and follows recent roll-outs in areas of Leeds and Greater Manchester.

Starship’s robots are already a familiar sight in several other locations across the UK.

Chris Conway, eCommerce director, Co-op, said: “Co-op stores are well placed in the heart of local communities to provide quick, easy and convenient home deliveries – whether a full shop or last-minute top-ups.

“We are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to our products and services, and pleased to be able to roll-out autonomous robot deliveries to provide additional online flexibility, choice and convenience in Wakefield.”

Councillor Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for planning and highways, added: “We’re excited that this cutting-edge technology is coming to our district and helping our residents who might find it difficult to get out and about with an affordable and convenient way of doing their food shopping.

“The service is also environmentally-friendly – the robots are zero emission; people won’t need to drive to the shops in their cars, and it will help to reduce food waste as people can order a small shop with the exact ingredients they need.”

Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, said: “We are happy to officially launch our service in Wakefield and provide local residents with the opportunity to have their groceries delivered by our fleet of battery powered robots.

“The robots have been widely welcomed everywhere they operate for the benefits they provide in terms of ease and convenience for people, while also having a positive environmental impact.

“We all want cleaner air to breathe, and our robots make short car journeys to the supermarket a thing of the past.”

Starship Technologies recently celebrated five years of commercial service, and since launch the company’s robots have completed more than four million deliveries around the world, undertaking 140,000 road crossings every day.

Customers can choose from a wide range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want it to be sent.

They can watch the robot travel in real-time via an interactive map, receive an alert when it arrives, and can unlock the robot’s lid through the app to retrieve their groceries.

The robots use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to travel on pavements and navigate around any obstacles, while computer vision-based navigation helps them map their environment.