A grocery delivery service that sees robots travelling the streets of Northampton has expanded to include four more areas of the town.
Starship Technologies - the company behind the little, white robots that roam about town delivering items from Co-op stores - has announced the expansion today (November 25).
The robots began delivering in Wootton and Hardingstone last year and then started serving Abington from the Barry Road Co-op at the start of this year. Duston followed shortly after.
Now more areas of Northampton will be covered by the on-demand deliveries as the robots will run from three more Co-op stores covering Boothville, Great Billing, Hopping Hill and Spinney Hill.
The company says the robots previously served 31,000 households in the town, but the latest announcement boosts that figure to 60,000.
Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, said: “We are very pleased to bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to thousands more Northampton residents in partnership with Co-op.
“Since launching our service a year ago we have been moved by the extremely positive reaction to the robots and how they have been embraced as part of the local community.
“While the service has provided the benefits of contactless delivery during the pandemic this past year, we have also seen how people have welcomed the convenience and positive environmental impact of autonomous delivery for ‘top up’ grocery shopping.”
The robots 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.
Councillor Phil Larratt, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Highways Transport and Waste Services on West Northamptonshire Council, added: “Starship’s robots have been a real success story for Northampton over the last year, so we’re delighted to support the expansion of this world-leading service to even more households.
“Our residents have really welcomed the robots as a convenient, energy-efficient alternative to driving to the shop, and this is just the sort of innovative new technology we want to explore as we work towards our vision of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.”
Users can choose from a range of more than 2,000 grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent.
They can watch in real-time via an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to them.
Once the robot arrives, they receive an alert, and can meet and unlock it through the app.
Chris Conway, Co-op’s head of eCommerce, said: “Our members and our customers lead busy lives and ease, speed and convenience is at the heart of our approach.
“As a convenience retailer, the ability to come into stores will always be important to customers, but we also know that they want flexible options online, and so we are focused on getting closer to where our customers are, to provide what they need, however and wherever they choose to shop with us.”
Northampton residents can access Starship’s service via the Starship Food Delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android.