Co-op brings robot grocery delivery to Leeds

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Robot delivery scheme, Robot delivery, Co-op’s robot delivery service, Co-op’s revolutionary robot delivery scheme
(Photo by Darren Staples/Getty Images)

Co-op, Starship Technologies and Leeds City Council have partnered to bring autonomous grocery delivery to the streets of Leeds.

The service will be available to 20,000 residents initially within the Adel and Tinshill area of Leeds, with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores on Spen Lane (Tinshill) and Otley Road (Adel) for quick and convenient delivery in the community.

Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android with Leeds residents able to choose from a range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent.

Customers can order their delivery to arrive in under an hour and watch the robot travel in real-time via an interactive map. Customers receive an alert when the robot arrives, and can meet and unlock it through the app.

With a delivery fee starting from just 99p, the robots have become a much-loved presence across a number of communities. The expansion in the North of England for the first time follows the successful introduction of autonomous deliveries in Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton, Cambourne, and most recently Cambridge. Since the robots were first introduced into the UK, an estimated 1.1 million miles of car journeys have been saved with a 445-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions.

Chris Conway, eCommerce Director, Co-op, 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 so ease, speed and convenience is a cornerstone of our approach. Co-op stores are well placed to provide quick home deliveries in communities with products picked fresh in our local stores – whether that is a full grocery shop or for those last-minute top-ups, treats for evenings at home or forgotten items. We are delighted to be expanding into Yorkshire to provide flexible, quick and convenient options online for shoppers in our communities.”

Councillor Helen Hayden, Leeds City Council’s executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “As a council we are absolutely committed to delivering alternative, sustainable methods of travel to help reach our target of becoming net-zero by 2030. We are trying to reduce the number of short journeys made by car, including those made by delivery vehicles. I’m really excited by the launch of this pilot, which will be trialled for three months in north-west Leeds.

The robots are battery powered, lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian (no faster than 4mph). They use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to travel on pavements and navigate around any obstacles, while computer vision-based navigation helps them map their environment to the nearest inch.

Starship, which was created by the co-founders of communications system Skype in 2014, currently operates a fully commercial service in five countries around the world and a number of towns and cities in the UK in partnership with Co-op including Milton Keynes; Bedford; Northampton; Cambridge and, now Leeds. Residents in all of these UK towns and cities can also expect to see Starship’s robots celebrating Christmas in the coming weeks, with the robots dressed as reindeer while making deliveries to excited families.