Groceries delivered by robot in Wakefield

Starship Technologies partners with Wakefield Council and Co-op on a new autonomous service for 6,500 households. 

Orders made through the Starship food delivery app will be picked fresh from the Co-op shop at Outwood and delivered by one of three robots, each with their own character.

Delivery robots from Starship Technologies

Starship Technologies robots in Milton Keynes, photo courtesy of Starship Technologies

Some 13,000 local residents can now choose whether their delivery is made by Gizmo, Sir Lance-a-bot or Sunshine. Each robot has their own greeting and customers can also choose a song for their robot to play on arrival. 

The service is easy-to-use and convenient, especially for those with limited mobility. Almost 25% of customers have or live with someone who has an accessibility need. 

Having chosen their items, customers simply place a pin on an interactive map to indicate where delivery should be made. They can then watch their robot’s progress in real time on the map and receive an alert when it arrives. 

The app is then used to unlock the robot’s lid to retrieve the order. 

Delivery fees start from 99p and the service is already proving popular in other locations across the UK. Starship Technologies launched an autonomous delivery service in Milton Keynes in 2018 and since then has expanded to Bedford, Cambourne, Cambridge, Leeds Northampton and Trafford.  

Around the world, the company’s robots have safely completed more than 4 million deliveries, undertaking 140,000 road crossings every day.  

The robots are battery powered, lightweight and travel at walking speed. Via a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, they travel on pavements and navigate around obstacles. Computer vision-based navigation helps them map their environment to the nearest inch. 

Cllr Matthew Morley, Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways at Wakefield Council, says: We’re excited that this cutting-edge technology is coming to our district and helping our residents who might find it difficult to get out and about with an affordable and convenient way of doing their food shopping. The service is also environmentally friendly – the robots are zero emission; people won’t need to drive to the shops in their cars, and it will help to reduce food waste as people can order a small shop with the exact ingredients they need. 

Andrew Curtis, UK Operations Manager at Starship Technologies, says: The robots have been widely welcomed everywhere they operate for the benefits they provide in terms of ease and convenience for people, while also having a positive environmental impact. We all want cleaner air to breathe, and our robots make short car journeys to the supermarket a thing of the past. 

Chris Conway, eCommerce Director at Co-op, adds: Co-op stores are well placed in the heart of local communities to provide quick, easy and convenient home deliveries – whether a full shop or last-minute top-ups. We are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to our products and services. 

In related news, autonomous buses now serve a 14-mile route in Scotland seven days a week.


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