Food delivery robots will be taking to the historic streets of Cambridge as part of a new scheme by Co-op, Starship Technologies and Cambridgeshire County Council.
Following a pilot in nearby Cambourne earlier this year – with 98% of people saying they would recommend the delivery robots to their friends – the decision was made by the Highways and Transport Committee to welcome the robots to the streets of Cambridge.
The grocery delivery service will be available to 12,200 residents within the Cherry Hinton and Queen Edith areas.
Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores on Perne Road and Cherry Hinton Road and delivered quickly and conveniently in the community.
Residents can order their delivery to arrive in under an hour and watch the robot travel in real-time via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, residents receive an alert and can meet and unlock it through the app.
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 in local communities to provide quick and easy home deliveries – whether a full shop or last-minute top-ups. We are pleased that the trial has expanded into Cambridge and, has been seen to contribute to the reduction in unnecessary car journeys while providing flexible options online for shoppers in our communities.”
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.
An average delivery for a Starship robot consumes as little energy as boiling a kettle to make just one cup of tea, thereby delivering tangible environmental benefits compared to driving to a store.
Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, added: “We are delighted to be expanding our on-demand, quick and sustainable grocery delivery service to an additional 12,200 residents in Cambridge. Our friendly robots have been very well received, and as a result are actively reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions in the areas they operate in. We are very much looking forward to working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council and Co-op, and hope to further expand our service over the coming years.”