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Food delivery robots from Starship Technologies now delivering Co-op groceries in Cambourne



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Robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries for Co-op customers.

The small autonomous vehicles can travel up to 4mph and navigate around obstacles and across roads, using a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies

Residents in Lower or Upper Cambourne, where there are Co-op stores, are able to order fresh food for robot delivery by using the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android.

After selecting from a range of grocery items, householders can schedule the delivery, then drop a pin where they want it to be sent.

The groceries will be picked fresh by Co-op staff and delivered in as little as an hour or less.

School pupils get to meet the Starship Technologies robot fleet. Picture: Starship Technologies
School pupils get to meet the Starship Technologies robot fleet. Picture: Starship Technologies

The robots are tracked, meaning their progress can be watched in real-time via the interactive map. When they arrive at their destination, they send an alert so that they can be met and unlocked through the app by the purchaser.

During their trips, the cargo bay is mechanically locked.

The pilot project, launched today (Tuesday) has been organised by Cambridgeshire County Council with Starship Technologies, the world’s leading provider of autonomous delivery services, in partnership with the Co-op.

The council says it is part of its agenda to reduce short car journeys and improve air quality.

An average delivery for a Starship robot consumes as little energy as boiling a kettle for one cup of tea, and its fleet is powered by zero carbon electricity.

Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies

Cllr Alex Beckett (Lib Dem, Queen Edith’s), chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, said: “The partnership between the council and Starship is tremendously exciting and has the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents while also reducing congestion. Hopefully the trial will be a success, which would allow us to extend the benefits of quick and easy deliveries to more people across the county.”

Starship is already in operation in local neighbourhoods in Milton Keynes and Northampton, and operates a commercial service in six countries, including on university campuses in America.

The company was created by the co-founders of Skype, the online communications system, in 2014.

A robot is packed with groceries, ready to deliver in Cambourne. Picture: Starship Technologies
A robot is packed with groceries, ready to deliver in Cambourne. Picture: Starship Technologies

Since launching commercial deliveries in 2018, its robots have travelled more than four million miles and completed more than 3.5 million deliveries.

Its robots make 140,000 road crossings every day - the equivalent of three per second.

Computer vision-based navigation enables the robots to map their environment to the nearest inch.

In Cambourne, the robots have been seen out and about on test runs in recent days ahead of the launch. A Google map has been created to show the areas available for delivery.

The robots send an alert on arrival. Picture: Starship Technologies
The robots send an alert on arrival. Picture: Starship Technologies

Cllr Mark Howell (Con, Cambourne) said: “I’m delighted people living in my ward will now be able to enjoy the convenience of having small food deliveries dropped off at their front door. This will cut down on the number of small car journeys and save time. I would like to thank Starship for choosing Cambourne for the trial and I look forward to seeing how it goes.”

The company says that if the pilot is a success, it will expand further across the county and use more suppliers, meaning jobs will be created.

Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, said: “We are very pleased to be bringing the benefits of on-demand, contactless grocery delivery to residents in Cambourne.

“In the last few years we have had extremely positive feedback from people using our service regularly in Milton Keynes and Northampton who have embraced the robots as part of their local communities.

“We’re looking forward to working closely with the council in Cambridgeshire and hopefully expanding the scope of this initial project.”

Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies (56706798)
Starship Technologies food delivery robots are now on the streets of Cambourne, delivering groceries from the Co-op. Picture: Starship Technologies (56706798)

Chris Conway, Co-op ecommerce director, 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 ease, speed and convenience is at the heart of our approach. Co-op stores across the country are well placed to serve shoppers locally and a key part of our strategy is to further develop our ecommerce offer by using our store footprint to provide same-day, rapid, home deliveries.

“As a convenience retailer, the ability to come into stores will always be important to customers, but we also know that shoppers want flexible options online, and so we are focused on providing what our customers want and need, however and wherever they choose to shop with us.”

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