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Delivery robots roll-out in Wakefield as Co-op expands Starship partnership


Grocery delivery robots are being introduced to Wakefield as a partnership between Starship Technologies, Co-op and Wakefield Council aims to bring the benefits of autonomous deliveries to local residents.

The service will initially be available to 13,000 residents across 6,500+ households, with orders made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android. Groceries will be picked fresh from the local Co-op store in Outwood, and delivered quickly and conveniently from store to door in minutes.

This launch in Wakefield continues the expansion of autonomous robot deliveries, and follows recent roll-outs in areas of Leeds and Greater Manchester. Starship’s robots are already a familiar and popular sight in several other locations across the UK including: Milton Keynes; Northampton, Bedford; Cambourne and Cambridge.

Chris Conway, ecommerce director, Co-op, said: “Co-op stores are well placed in the heart of local communities to provide quick, easy and convenient home deliveries – whether a full shop or last-minute top-ups. We are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to our products and services, and delighted to be able to roll-out autonomous robot deliveries to provide additional online flexibility, choice and convenience in Wakefield.”

Customers can choose from a wide range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want it to be sent. They can watch the robot travel in real-time via an interactive map, and will receive an alert when it arrives, and can meet and unlock the robot’s lid through the app to retrieve their groceries.

With a delivery fee starting from just 99p, Starship’s robots are battery powered, lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian. 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.

Anyone placing an order will also be able to enjoy a recently launched new feature from Starship, with three robot ‘characters’ available to customise the delivery experience. Wakefield residents can choose to receive their orders from Sir Lance-a-bot, Gizmo and Sunshine, with each greeting customers in their own unique way. Customers can also choose a song for their robot to play on arrival.

Cllr Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for planning and highways, added: “We’re excited that this cutting-edge technology is coming to our district and helping our residents who might find it difficult to get out and about with an affordable and convenient way of doing their food shopping. The service is also environmentally-friendly – the robots are zero emission; people won’t need to drive to the shops in their cars, and it will help to reduce food waste as people can order a small shop with the exact ingredients they need.”

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