Co-op Group brings its robot delivery service to Greater Manchester

The service will initially be available to 24,000 residents across 10,500 households in Sale

The robot delivery service developed by Starship Technologies for the Co-op Group has expanded to Sale in Greater Manchester under a partnership with Trafford Council.

The delivery robots are already in operation from Group stores in Milton Keynes, Northampton, Bedford, Cambourne, Cambridge and Leeds. Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app with groceries picked fresh in local Co-op stores and carried to customers.

Chris Conway, ecommerce director at the Group, said: “Co-op stores are well placed in the heart of local communities to provide quick, easy and convenient home deliveries – whether a full shop or last-minute top-ups. We are committed to exploring new and innovative ways to increase access to our products and services, and delighted to be able to roll-out autonomous robots to provide additional online flexibility and choice in Greater Manchester.”

Andrew Curtis, UK operations manager at Starship Technologies, added: “We are very pleased to offer the benefits of autonomous delivery to thousands of residents in Greater Manchester from today and continue our expansion in the north of England.

Related: Co-op Group adds Just Eat to its list of online delivery partners

“The robots provide ease and convenience for people, while also making a positive contribution to reducing congestion and carbon emissions. We are confident that the service will be well received and look forward to a long-standing relationship with Trafford Council to hopefully roll the service out further in the months ahead.”

Cllr Stephen Adshead, Trafford Council’s executive member for environmental services, said: “We are excited to be working with the Co-op and Starship Technologies to launch this new initiative in the Sale area. The robots are a lot of fun and it will be great to see them taking to the streets of the borough.

“But there is a more serious message here – Trafford Council is totally committed to helping the environment and reducing our carbon emissions and the electric robots could well contribute towards those aims.”

The service in Greater Manchester will initially be available to 24,000 residents across 10,500 households in Sale. Orders are made through the Starship food delivery app, which is available for download on iOS and Android. The groceries are picked fresh in Co-op Group’s Washway Road and Coppice Avenue stores.

Customers choose from a wide range of grocery items, schedule their delivery, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. They can watch the robot travel in real-time via an interactive map, and will receive an alert when it arrives, and can meet and, then unlock the robot’s lid through the app to retrieve their groceries. Delivery fees start from just 99p.

Starship’s robots are battery powered, lightweight and travel at the speed of a pedestrian. 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 Technologies celebrates five years of commercial service next month, and since launch the company says its robots have safely completed more than four million deliveries around the world. Globally, the robots undertake 140,000 road crossings every day, adds Starship. Nearly 25% of its customers either have or live with someone that has an accessibility need.