Delivery robot developer Starship Technologies has partnered with the Co-op supermarket to bring autonomous grocery deliveries to Leeds in the UK.
Working with Leeds city council, the service will initially be available to 20,000 residents within the Adel and Tinshill areas of the city. Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores. Leeds residents will be able to choose from a range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. Fees start from just 99p (US$1).
Customers can order their delivery to arrive in under an hour and watch the robot travel in real time via an interactive map. An alert is sent when the robot arrives, with the delivery compartment unlocked by the customer through the app.
Since launching commercial deliveries in 2018, Starship’s robots have completed more than four million deliveries around the world. Globally, the robots undertake 140,000 road crossings every day.
The expansion in the north of England follows the successful introduction of autonomous deliveries in Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton, Cambourne, and most recently Cambridge.
Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds city council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said, “As a council we are absolutely committed to delivering alternative, sustainable methods of travel to help reach our target of becoming net-zero by 2030. We are trying to reduce the number of short journeys made by car, including those made by delivery vehicles. I’m really excited by the launch of this pilot, which will be trialled for three months in northwest Leeds.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the number of home deliveries. This pilot will be transformative and will provide an alternative home delivery provision which will particularly benefit residents with mobility problems or those facing other challenges which make accessing local facilities difficult. I would encourage residents in Adel and Tinshill to feedback their thoughts on the delivery robots during the pilot by visiting the council’s survey at starshipleeds.commonplace.is.”
Alastair Westgarth, CEO at Starship Technologies, added, “We are delighted to bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to residents in Leeds. This is our first significant expansion to the north of England, and we are confident the robots will make a positive impact in terms of actively reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions, while also providing ease and convenience for local communities. Our robots have been widely welcomed as part of the community in all the areas we operate, and we are confident they will be equally embraced in Leeds. We are looking forward to working closely with Leeds city council and Co-op and hope to further expand our service to more parts of Leeds and the wider Yorkshire region in the near future.”
Chris Conway, e-commerce director, Co-op, said, “Co-op is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to its products and services. Our members and customers lead busy lives and so ease, speed and convenience are a cornerstone of our approach. Co-op stores are well placed in local communities to provide quick and easy home deliveries – whether a full grocery shop or for those last-minute top-ups and forgotten items. We are delighted to be expanding into Yorkshire to provide flexible and convenient options online for shoppers in our communities.”
The robots are battery powered, lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian (no faster than 4mph). They 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 to the nearest inch.