Robot supermarket delivery trial in Cambridgeshire

  • Published
Food and supermarket delivery robotsImage source, Cambs County Council
Image caption,
Robots will deliver groceries and more to people in the new community of Cambourne, between Cambridge and St Neots

More supermarket delivery robots will be taking to the streets in a pilot in a new village in Cambridgeshire.

The county council and Starship Technologies have formed a delivery partnership with the Co-op.

It will see 12,000 residents of 5,000 homes in Cambourne able to receive goods by robots.

The project is part of the council's environmental policy to try to reduce short car journeys and improve air quality.

The firm behind the robots said in an average delivery journey they used energy equivalent to that needed for a kettle to boil a cup of water.

The robots have already been operating in Northampton and Milton Keynes.

Image source, Cambs County Council
Image caption,
Alex Beckett said the venture had "the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents while also reducing congestion"

The Cambridgeshire pilot will see households able to order from the Co-op in Mosquito Road in Upper Cambourne, and then wait for their delivery.

If the project is successful, Starship has signalled its intention to expand across the county and use more suppliers, the council said.

Alex Beckett, chairman of the council's highways and transport committee, said the venture had "the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents while also reducing congestion".

Starship said its robots were powered by zero carbon electricity, and were "advanced autonomous devices" that could carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

The robots were lightweight and could travel at human walking pace - no faster than 4mph (6km/h).

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

Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, said it had received "extremely positive feedback from people using the service in Milton Keynes and Northampton and was hoping to "expand the scope of this initial project".

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