Tortoise robots speed convenience store deliveries

  • August 17, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Robots are about to delivery groceries in Dallas following a partnership between the Urban Value Corner Store chain, ecommerce provider Vroom Delivery and robotics company Tortoise.

California-based Tortoise, founded by a former Uber executive, will be bringing on-demand delivery of thousands of products to consumers’ doors in the coming months. Products will include grocery staples such as milk and eggs, as well as beverages, ice cream, snacks and more, all delivered in under an hour. Alcohol and tobacco items will also be available for delivery from human drivers.

Each delivery robot is about the size of a large cooler and is remotely piloted, ensuring a human is always at the wheel. The robots operate on the pavements and drive at an average speed of around 5km/hr, allowing them to safely navigate around people, cars, pets and other obstacles. The cart can carry over 45kg of goods in sealed containers, which are remotely opened by the cart operator when it arrives at its destination.

The Vroom plus Tortoise partnership allows for a contactless, zero-emission and affordable home delivery option, mitigating sustainability and congestion problems. The Tortoise Cart is 100% electric.

“We are thrilled to be working with Urban Value, a leading convenience store chain in downtown Dallas, on a pilot deployment in the coming months,” said Dmitry Shevelenko, co-founder of Tortoise.

Urban Value, which operates stores in and around the Dallas area, will initially be piloting the programme from its downtown location. Upon the success of the initial pilot, it intends to continue to roll the programme out across the metroplex.

“We are very excited to pilot this first-in-market contactless shopping opportunity,” said Steve McKinley, CEO of Urban Value. “I expect that this technology combined with our diverse product offering will provide downtown Dallas residents and office staff a much more convenient shopping experience.”

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Chicago, Vroom Delivery is a full-stack ecommerce offering for convenience stores, providing every technical aspect required for chains of convenience stores to operate and manage their own ecommerce and delivery services. Vroom can set up an entire network of stores for ecommerce and delivery within days.

John Nelson, CEO of Vroom Delivery, said: “In addition to the obvious contactless and environmental benefits, what we like about this concept is that this is also very affordable for both the store and the consumer, significantly lowering the average cost of delivery.”

Customers can already order delivery from Urban Value for home delivery through the Vroom platform, with robots taking up the last kilometre responsibilities within the coming months. Vroom Delivery and Tortoise are also making this offering available to other convenience store chains across the country.

Founded to change the way urban residents shop in the Dallas and Fort Worth region, Urban Value brings convenience and quality as close to the doorstep as possible. It offers a quiet and clean place to shop for food and beverages such as beer, wine and sodas, freshly brewed coffee, pastries, snacks and healthy meals. The store offers essential household items, over-the-counter medications, pet snacks and toys, as well as local Texas made products.

Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Tortoise powers low-speed remote repositioning for light electric vehicles such as delivery bots, shared scooters and cleaning robots.