Boise-based Albertsons Companies started sending robots onto the streets around a few of its stores recently. It’s the latest in a series of ideas to add more tech. to the long-standing grocery chain’s services.
Albertsons launched a trial at two of its Safeway stores in Northern California that allows shoppers to get groceries delivered in a special remote-controlled cart, if they live up to three miles from a store.
Once the cart arrives, a customer will get a text message and the cart will unlock, which will allow the non-shopping shopper to unload groceries into their home.
Tortoise and the hare pun here
The pilot uses technology from a California tech. company called Tortoise. Shoppers go online, pick out groceries, pay a fee – then workers will load up the cart and send it out to the streets. A remote worker will guide and steer the device using cameras and sensors.
It’s similar to the technology behind remote-controlled scooters that will roll out in Boise this spring from Spin. In fact, the same vendor – Tortoise – is behind both projects.
“Our team is obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers,” said Chris Rupp, EVP and Chief Customer and Digital Officer. “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.”
For now, a Safeway worker will accompany the carts as they roll along the streets – at the blistering pace of just 3 MPH. The cart uses a rechargeable electric battery.
It’s not the company’s first use of robots. It previously used aisle-scanning robots in some Boise area stores. It’s also another method of getting groceries delivered to customers announced in recent months. Last month we told you about an automated pickup kiosk the company is testing outside of Chicago.