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Metro deploys robots to deliver groceries

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LONDON — Robots are delivering food in the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland in a pilot project launched by Starship Technologies in conjunction with Metro Group and other partners.

Dozens of six-wheeled robots, traveling at four miles per hour, have been deployed in five cities to run first-test deliveries. A similar program will be announced for the United States shortly.

The largest European food delivery company, Just Eat; German parcel delivery company Hermes; and London food delivery start-up Pronto.co.uk are testing deliveries along with Metro.

“By launching partnerships with major companies, we will enter the next phase in our development,” said Ahti Heinla, cofounder, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Starship Technologies.

Robots developed by Starship are designed to deliver packages, groceries and food to consumers in a two- to three-mile radius. The robots can drive autonomously while being monitored by human operators in control centers.

Introduced to European and American cities since the end of last year, the robots have already driven close to 5,000 miles and been met by over 400,000 people without an accident.

“The partners we’re working with are at the top of their game — passionate, driven and quick to embrace new technology — making them the perfect choice for us to truly demonstrate our robotic delivery solution,” said Starship chief operating officer Allan Martinson. “We’re sure to come up against challenges, but our aim will never change — to redefine convenience and customer service for the consumer, while making the last-mile industry for businesses cost effective, efficient and profitable.”

David Buttress, CEO of Just Eat, said: “We are continuously looking for ways to use technology to make our customers’ lives easier. Starship is right at the forefront of innovation in the delivery sector, and so it’s a natural fit for us to be partnering with them to bring delivery robots to our High Streets.”

For his part, Hermes Germany CEO Frank Rausch said: “We are proud to be Starship’s exclusive logistics partner in Germany. By testing Starship robots for the last mile, we use the opportunity to boost our service level and make parcel delivery easier and more comfortable than it is ­today.”

Added James Roy Poulter, CEO and cofounder at Pronto: “As soon as we saw the Starship delivery robot, we knew this was the solution we’d been looking for in our mission to make it even easier for people to access quality, affordable food at the touch of a button.”


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