Robotic grocery deliveries for Leeds residents in new trial

A robotic grocery delivery service has launched a pilot scheme in Leeds as it operates in north England for the first time. 

Starship, an app-based service that uses motorised storage robots to collect and deliver groceries, is now available to the 20,000 residents living in the delivery radius of two Co-op stores in the Tinshill and Adel areas of the city. 

The three-month trial is part of a partnership between the tech company, Co-op, and Leeds City Council. Cllr Helen Hayden said: ‘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.’

white and black bus on green grass field near brown concrete building during daytime

Powered by renewable electricity, it’s claimed that it takes the same amount of energy for one of the robots to complete a delivery as it does to boil a kettle for one cup of tea. It is estimated that uses of the robots in other cities, such as Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Bedford, Cambourne and Northampton, have saved around 1.1 million car journeys. 

Cllr Hayden emphasised how the trial could help the council with its aim to be net-zero by 2023, she said: ‘We are trying to reduce the number of short journeys made by car, including those made by delivery vehicles.’ 

Customers who use the app are able to watch the robot’s journey to their pinned location as well as receiving an alert when it arrives, the robots are only able to be opened by a unique code sent to each user for their delivery, which should arrive in under an hour. 

Starship Technologies CEO, Alastair Westgarth, said: ‘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.’ 

The participating Co-op stores are on Spen Lane in Tinshill and Otley Road in Adel, residents can download the Starship food delivery app on iOS or Android to place an order. 

Robotic grocery deliveries are just one of the ways that councils across the UK are attempting to reach net-zero targets with Coventry recently announcing a step forward in their plan to have an all-electric bus fleet.

Photo by Bill Nino


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