Food delivery robots taking to streets of Cambridgeshire

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC

Supermarket delivery robots are taking to the streets of Cambridgeshire as part of a pilot scheme. 

The pilot, beginning today (May 17), has been organised between Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and Starship Technologies, and is in partnership with the Co-op. 

It will see 12,000 residents in 5,000 homes be able to receive goods by robots. 

They’ll be able to order items on the Starship food delivery app, schedule their delivery, drop a pin where they’d like their delivery to be sent to and then watch in real-time via an interactive map as the robot makes its journey to them. 

Once the robot arrives, they will receive an alert and can meet and unlock it through the app. 

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC

The project is part of the council’s wide-ranging environmental agenda, helping to reduce short car journeys and improve air quality. 

The firm behind the robots said in an average delivery journey, they use energy equivalent to that needed for a kettle to make one cup of tea. 

The robots have already been operating in Milton Keynes and Northampton. 

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Cllr Alex Beckett, chair of CCC’s highways and transport committee, said: “The partnership between the council and Starship is tremendously exciting and has the potential to make life easier for thousands of residents while also reducing congestion.” 

Since launching in 2014, Starship’s robots have travelled more than four million miles and safely completed more than 3.5 million deliveries to customers. 

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC

The robots are powered by zero carbon electricity and are “advanced autonomous devices” that can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. 

They are lightweight and can travel at human walking pace – no faster than 4mph (6km/h). 

UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, Andrew Curtis, said: “In the last few years we have had extremely positive feedback from people using our services who have embraced the robots as part of their communities. 

“We are looking forward to working closely with the council in Cambridgeshire and hopefully expanding the scope of this initial project.”

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC

A map showing who will be eligible to book deliveries can be viewed on Google. 

If the project is successful, Starship has signalled its intention to expand further across the county and use more suppliers, which in turn will lead to new jobs being created. 

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver.

Starship Technologies' robots can carry items over short distances without needing a driver. - Credit: CCC