UK retailer Co-op and Starship Technologies have expanded their partnership to roll out deliveries in communities across Bedford.
In partnership with Bedford Borough Council, the collaboration will see up to 20,000 households in Bedford gain access to deliveries of groceries from three Co-op stores in the area: Goldington, Queens Drive, and Kempston.
Customers will receive groceries from store to door via a fleet of Starship’s autonomous robots, Co-op noted.
The move follows Co-op and Starship's successful operation of autonomous robot deliveries together in communities across Milton Keynes, Northampton, and Cambridgeshire.
Robot Deliveries In Bedford
The extension of the service will allow residents of Bedford and Kempston choose from a range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, and drop a pin where they want to delivery to be sent.
They will be able to watch in real-time via an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to the destination.
Once the robot arrives, shoppers receive an alert and can meet and unlock it through the app.
The robots are lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian (no faster than 4mph).
The technology relies on a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to enable the robot to travel on pavements and navigate around any obstacles. Computer vision-based navigation helps the robots map their environment to the nearest inch.
Chris Conway, e-commerce director at Co-op, said, "We are delighted to be able to expand our partnership to areas of Bedford from today - as a convenience retailer, the ability to come into stores will always be important to customers, but we also know that shoppers want flexible and convenient options online, and so we are focused on providing what our customers want and need, however and wherever they choose to shop with us."
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, added, "I’m delighted that the Council and Starship are working together with Co-op for innovative solutions to grocery delivery - it is exciting to see the robots on our streets.
"It has the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents across Bedford and Kempston 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 Borough."
Starship Technologies was created by the co-founders of Skype in 2014.
Since launching commercial deliveries in 2018, Starship’s robots have travelled more than 4 million miles and safely completed more than 3.5 million deliveries.
Around the world, the robots make 140,000 road crossings every day, equivalent to three road crossings every second.
Starship’s robots are powered by zero-carbon electricity, Co-op added.
Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android, with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores and delivered in as little as one hour or less.
Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, said, "Our robots have been very well received and integrated seamlessly as part of local communities across Milton Keynes, Northampton, and Cambourne, and we are confident they will be similarly welcomed in Bedford and Kempston.
"We are thrilled to be working with Bedford Borough Council and Co-op on this and look forward to further collaboration in the near future to roll the service out further."