Safeway to test robot delivery

Albertsons Companies, owners of the Safeway grocery chain, will test remote-controlled delivery robots from Tortoise. The test of the zero-emission carts will take place at a Safeway store in Northern California.

The cart, which can carry up to 120 pounds of groceries in four lockable containers, will travel at an average speed of 3 mph and be powered by an electric battery. The vehicle’s containers can support ambient temperatures, chilled or frozen. When the cart arrives at a home, the customer receives a text to come outside and pick up their groceries.

The cart measures 29.5 inches by 25.1 inches by 30 inches.

“Our team is obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers,” said Chris Rupp, executive vice president and chief customer and digital officer for Albertsons. “We are willing to quickly test, learn and implement winning innovations that ensure we are offering the easiest and most convenient shopping experience in the entire industry.”

Tortoise’s cart is equipped with a camera and speaker and is guided through the neighborhood by a remote operator. During the testing period, a human escort will accompany the cart.

Tortoise estimates that using one of its delivery robots within a two-mile radius of a store can save $6 per delivery order when compared to a human driver.

Albertsons is also testing piloting pickup lockers in Chicago and an automated pickup kiosk at select Jewel-Osco locations.

Save Mart is also testing robots for last-mile delivery of online grocery orders. Near its flagship store in Modesto, California, customers may receive their deliveries from a Starship Technologies robot.

The robots can carry up to 20 pounds of groceries – the equivalent of about three shopping bags – and travel up to four miles roundtrip.

Shoppers can access the Starship Food Delivery app, available on iOS and Android, to choose from a range of groceries and indicate where they want their purchases delivered. Once an order is submitted, Save Mart team members pack the robot with the order and send it on its journey. An interactive map allows shoppers to watch the robot on its route. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can unlock the robot through the app.

“We are proud to debut this innovative service in our hometown of Modesto,” said Jerald Smith, store director, Save Mart flagship. “Through our partnership with Starship Technologies, Save Mart is pleased to offer our community an added solution for efficient, safe, and healthy grocery shopping.”

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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