Albertson Companies, the company that owns Safeway and Jewel-Osco, has partnered with Silicon Valley software startup, Tortoise, to launch a pilot program that uses remote-controlled delivery robots, as reported by TechCrunch.
The test will start at two Safeway locations in northern California.
According to the report, Dmitry Shevelenko, co-founder and president of Tortoise, said that if the operation is successful, he expected the pilot to scale up to other shops within the state and perhaps the west coast.
The Safeway-stamped delivery carriages installed with Tortoise’s software will be able to make food deliveries for its customers who live as far as three miles from the store location, said TechCrunch. The delivery carts will be tele-controlled by long-distance operators to guide the cart on its journey. When the carts reach their destination, customers will be told to collect their order via text message, according to the outlet.
Other large companies, including Ford, are becoming more reliant on delivery robots. The pandemic has also bolstered the growth of smaller robotic-delivery companies, such as Starship Technologies, which hit 1 million sales in February.
AP reported that Albertson’s EVP, and chief customer and digital officer, Chris Rupp, said in a statement: “Our team is obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers.”
He added: “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.”
The partnership is an example of smart technologies transforming all types of industries to improve the customer experience at a time when social interaction has become increasingly difficult.