Co-op & Starship roll out robot delivery service to Northamptonshire towns

Co-op and Starship Technologies have partnered with North Northamptonshire Council to roll out autonomous grocery delivery to local residents across Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

The service has just launched and the partnership will see up to 45,000 residents across 33,000 households able to access on-demand grocery delivery from four local Co-op stores.

Groceries are picked fresh in the stores, which act as micro-distribution hubs in the community, with products delivered quickly and conveniently from store to door in as little as one hour or less.

Starship’s robots are powered by zero carbon electricity, with an average delivery for a Starship robot consuming as little energy as boiling a kettle to make just one cup of tea.

Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android, with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores and delivered quickly and conveniently in as little as one hour or less.

Shoppers can 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.

Starship’s robots have become a much loved fixture across local communities in Milton Keynes and, in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. They are also features at university campuses in the US and elsewhere in Europe. Starship was created by the co-founders of Skype in 2014.

Since launching commercial deliveries in 2018, its robots have travelled more than four million miles and safely completed more than 3.5 million deliveries.

Around the world, the robots make 140,000 road crossings every day world-wide, equivalent to three road crossings every second.

Cllr Graham Lawman, North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets, said, “I am delighted that Starship’s rather cute delivery robots will be coming to North Northamptonshire.

'This partnership between us, Starship and Co-op is extremely exciting and I know it will make a real difference to people’s lives - providing quick and easy deliveries to residents of Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

'The council is committed to the environment and this new service is another innovation that we are supporting to help to provide a clean and green alternative to the private car for day-to-day convenience shopping, helping to reduce emissions.'

Graham concluded, 'They will be really useful for those without a car or unable to get out for those urgent items.”

Chris Conway, eCommerce Director, Co-op, remarked, “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 ease, speed and convenience is at the heart of our approach.

'We are delighted to be able to extend the service in the area, 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, added, “We have had very positive feedback from local communities in Northampton since starting operations there in November 2020, and today is an exciting day for Starship as we offer the benefits of autonomous grocery delivery to 33,000 more households across Northamptonshire.

'Our robots offer an environmentally friendly and convenient way of helping people with their ‘top up’ shopping and we’re confident the service will be similarly well received in North Northants.”