The Co-operative Group is trialling robot grocery deliveries in and around Milton Keynes as part of an agreement with Starship Technologies.
The tech company, which is on track to build a fleet of 1,000 robots by the end of the year, has its UK headquaters a short distance from the Co-op’s Monkston branch in Milton Keynes.
Shoppers place their orders via the Starship app and groceries are loaded into the robots by Starship’s human pickers at the Co-op store.
The customers pay the usual in-store price plus a £1 delivery charge which goes to Starship.
Chris Conway, Co-op head of food digital, said: “Retailers need to be innovative and agile in their operations, and the Co-op is committed to exploring new technologies and seeking new ways to innovate, getting closer to the needs of our members and customers – what they want, when they need it and creating increased consumer choice and convenience, and we have agreed to take part in a limited robot trial for delivering goods.”
Starship is also working with Just Eat and so far has made “thousands of deliveries” to customers in South London.
It is now actively seeking out further trials within UK university campuses.
The robots have a top speed of 10mph and can travel up to three miles delivering up to 10kg of shopping including chilled and frozen groceries. They are fitted with ultrasonic sensors for detecting obstacles, nine cameras, radar and GPS.
Upon arrival, the recipient of the parcel receives a text message containing a link to unlock the robot. The robots drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take over control at any time.