Starship Cambridge _

Source: Co-op

Autonomous robots delivering on behalf of Co-op have rolled into Cambridge this week.

The grocery delivery service is available to 12,200 residents within the Cherry Hinton and Queen Edith areas of the city.

Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, with groceries picked by staff at Co-op stores on Perne Road and Cherry Hinton Road. Delivery can be scheduled for as little as one hour, with consumers watching the robot’s journey in real-time on the app. On arrival, users are sent an alert and can unlock the robot to access their shopping through the app.

Starship said the average delivery made by one of its robots consumes a similar amount of energy as it takes to boil a kettle to make a single cup of tea, “thereby delivering tangible environmental benefits compared to driving to a store”.

The Cambridge roll-out – a joint scheme between Cambridgeshire County Council, Starship Technologies and Co-op – follows a pilot in nearby Cambourne in May.

In Cambourne, 98% of those using the service said they would recommend the delivery robots to their friends, according to internal research.

Starship’s six-wheeled autonomous robots launched in the UK in 2018, delivering groceries in as little as 15 minutes within a two-mile radius of a Milton Keynes Co-op branch. The service has since expanded to more areas of Milton Keynes, and in 2020 rolled out in Northampton in partnership with Co-op. Bedford was added in July this year. The robots also deliver from Tesco and Budgens stores in some areas.

“Co-op is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to its products and services,” said Chris Conway, ecommerce director at Co-op. “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,” Conway added.

Starship, which was created by the co-founders of communications system Skype in 2014, operates a fully commercial service in five countries.

“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,” said Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies.