Robot grocery delivery service expands to Northampton

Image source, Co-op
Image caption,
The autonomous vehicles will now make deliveries in Northampton after starting the service in Milton Keynes

Customers in a second town have begun to receive grocery deliveries from robots.

Eight Co-op stores in Milton Keynes already use the autonomous vehicles in partnership with Starship Technologies.

The initiative will now serve about 5,000 households in Northampton with contactless deliveries.

Chris Conway from the supermarket chain said more customers who had never ordered online before were now using the service.

The robots will serve the Wootton Fields store, travelling up to three miles (5km) to customers' homes.

The Co-op said, due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand for the service had tripled in Milton Keynes in recent months.

Mr Conway said: "We have seen big changes in e-commerce this year."

Robot facts

Image source, Co-op
Image caption,
Customers have to make the orders via an app, which also allows them to unlock the robot

The robots:

  • Travel along pavements and cross streets, just like pedestrians
  • Have 10 cameras, ultrasound sensors, radar, and GPS
  • Are able to see 360 degrees and have a "situational awareness bubble" around them to detect and avoid any obstacles
  • Use sophisticated computer vision and software to identify objects such as cars, pedestrians, traffic lights and pavements

The Co-op said it planned to use up to 300 of Starship's robots by the end of 2021.

Starship Technologies robots have completed over 500,000 commercial autonomous deliveries in local neighbourhoods and university campuses across five countries.

The retail giant said the most popular items delivered by robot included milk, eggs, bread, bananas and cucumbers.

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