In partnership with Bedford Borough Council, the collaboration will see up to 45,000 residents across 20,000 households in Bedford benefit from quick and convenient deliveries of groceries selected fresh from three local Co-op stores in the area (Goldington; Queens Drive and Kempston), with customers receiving groceries from store to door via a fleet of Starship’s autonomous robots.
Co-op and Starship already operate autonomous robot deliveries together in communities across Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridgeshire.
Chris Conway, eCommerce Director, Co-op, said: “Co-op is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to serve our members and customers, they lead busy lives and so ease, speed and convenience is at the heart of our approach. We are delighted to be able to expand our partnership to areas of Bedford from today – as a convenience retailer, the ability to come into stores will always be important to customers, but we also know that shoppers want flexible and convenient options online, and so we are focused on providing what our customers want and need, however and wherever they choose to shop with us.”
Andrew Curtis, UK Operations Manager at Starship Technologies, said: “We are extremely excited to be bringing the Starship service to Bedford and Kempston, offering the benefits of on-demand, autonomous grocery delivery to local residents. Our robots have been very well received and integrated seamlessly as part of local communities across Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambourne, and we are confident they will be similarly welcomed in Bedford and Kempston. We are thrilled to be working with Bedford Borough Council and Co-op on this and look forward to further collaboration in the near future to roll the service out further.”
Bedford and Kempston residents will be able to choose from a range of 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.
The robots are 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.