UK’s Supermarket Giant Sends Robots To Carry Out Grocery Home Deliveries

Leon NealGetty Images

U.K.’s supermarket giant, Co-op, sent out a tiny robot to deliver groceries to customers’ homes in Milton Keynes.

According to a report by the Daily Mail, a robot was witnessed on the streets of Milton Keynes on Friday and was “pictured navigating the town’s numerous roundabouts as it delivered groceries.”

The self-driving robot has been created by Starship Technologies to carry out numerous logistical tasks, and according to the report, they have the ability to travel up to two miles. While negotiating with people, the pods can overcome obstacles as they move with a compartment full of items, in this case, food.

Milton Keynes will be the first-ever town to experience a large-scale automated delivery.

Earlier this year, Co-op announced that it partnered with Starship Technologies to deliver groceries in the town. Customers who wish to get groceries delivered at their doorstep can place an order through a mobile phone app and will have to pay a monthly subscription fee of just £7.99 ($10.24) to receive an unlimited number of deliveries.

In May, the supermarket carried out a series of practice deliveries for a four-week period.

A store located near Starship’s headquarters in Monkston used the “six-wheeled ‘ground drones’ to deliver around 200 different products,” the Daily Mail reported.

The report also said that customers paid the usual price that they pay in the store, plus an additional $1.28 for delivery, which went directly to Starship.

A member of the staff at Co-op — which the company designated as a “picker” — has been tasked with the job of putting the selected items in the cooler box of the compartment inside the robot. The robot then drives to the selected customer’s locations using GPS.

Customers are also provided with a unique code on their smartphones when they place the order so that they can access their purchased items once the robot reaches their doorstep with the deliveries.

Starship said that its bot is “purely functional with a large compartment to hold deliveries, the equivalent size of two grocery bags.”

In the past, Starship Technologies also collaborated with the popular food-delivery service JustEat to successfully carry out “thousands of deliveries” to customers across London.

Featured image credit: Leon NealGetty Images

The bots have also been trialed in other parts of the world, including Washington, California, and Hamburg, Germany, where they have delivered everything from groceries to takeaway pizzas, the Daily Mail report said.

The sophisticated robot is 55cm (22 inches) high by 70cm (28 inches) long and comes with a secured compartment where items with a maximum weight of 10 kg (22 pounds) can be transported.

The six-wheeled robot can travel at speeds up to 4 mph (6.4kmh) per hour, the report said, adding that if a “thief attempts to tamper with the robot, or snatch it, the operator can take over — talking directly to the wrongdoer and sending police to the drone’s location. The drone’s nine cameras can also capture the criminal’s face.”