Albertsons Companies, the country’s second-largest grocery store chain us joining hands with automated logistics start-up Tortoise to commence the pilot testing to examine grocery delivery using remote-controlled delivery robots. The pilot will start in 2 Safeway towns of Tracy and Windsor in Northern California. Albertsons acquired Safeway in a $9.2 billion merger deal in 2015. Although Tortoise co-founder and president Dmitry Shevelenko said if successful, he expects the pilot to continue to scale to other stores in the state and possibly throughout the West Coast.
Chris Rup, the EVP, and chief customer and digital officer of Albertsons mentioned that he along with his teams is very obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers. “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,” he added further.
This remote-controlled, zero-emission delivery carts will bring good and other household staples within three-mile radius of a Safeway supermarket. The bot carts are fully equipped with a camera and speaker which has the capacity to hold up to 120 pounds of groceries in four lockable containers. The carts have the ability to move at an average speed of 3 mph and are powered by an electric battery. Remote-control operators located thousands of miles away will guide the delivery cart to its destination. For its pilot run in Northern California, a human will accompany the cart for deliveries, and also, the customers will receive a text message upon the cart’s arrival.
Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Tortoise offers automated logistics technology for delivery bots, scooters, and more. Tortoise initially focused on neighborhood stores and specialty brand shops, through a partnership with an online grocery platform. Shevchenko’s strategy is to get contracts with big retailers while continuing to partner with online commerce platforms, which would enable it to reach smaller, independent stores.
The surge in the demand for online grocery shopping can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and is anticipated to comprise 21.5 percent of total U.S. grocery sales by 2025.