Starship helps Save Mart start robot grocery delivery

  • October 6, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Grocery retail chain Save Mart has started a robot grocery delivery service to customers from its flagship store in Modesto, California, in partnership with local company Starship Technologies.

Save Mart is the first grocer in the USA to partner with Starship Technologies. The debut of the contactless delivery service embraces the store’s role as an innovation laboratory and precedes the one-year anniversary of when the store’s opened in October 2019.

“We continually seek new ways to serve our communities and offer solutions for efficient, safe and healthy grocery shopping,” said Robert Cady, senior director of marketing for Save Mart. “Through our partnership with Starship Technologies, Save Mart is pleased once again to lead the way in customer service and innovation.”

Based in San Francisco, Starship Technologies recently passed the 500,000 autonomous deliveries milestone. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Former AirBnB executive Lex Bayer is CEO.

“With the onset of the pandemic, our service became increasingly important to thousands of residents in communities across the USA,” said Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president at Starship Technologies. “Save Mart is a loved brand that has deep ties to its local communities, which is why we’re especially excited about this partnership. Working together with Save Mart, we are able to provide a safe, convenient and well-priced delivery option for tens of thousands of residents.”

The robots, each of which can carry up to 9kg of groceries – the equivalent of about three shopping bags – and can travel up to 6.5km round trip, provide a safe, low-cost and contactless delivery alternative for Save Mart shoppers, allowing them to order from thousands of items via the Starship app platform for on-demand delivery straight to their home.

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its robots have completed over 500,000 autonomous deliveries and crossed more than five million streets. The robots move at pedestrian speed and use a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on pavements and navigate around obstacles.

The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots map their environment to the nearest centimetre. The robots can cross streets, climb kerbs, travel at night and operate in rain and snow. A team of humans can also monitor their progress remotely and can take control at a moment’s notice.

Save Mart operates 206 stores throughout California and northern Nevada. Additional store banners include Lucky, Lucky California, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value Foods. It also operates smart refrigerated transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries, which owns and operates a distribution centre in Lathrop and the Sunnyside Farms dairy processing plant in Turlock.

Starship’s autonomous robots robots are designed to deliver food, groceries and packages locally in minutes. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time.