Starship grocery delivery robots go live in Leeds today - with 20,000 people within radius and two Co-op stores taking part

The robot grocery delivery app Starship has gone live in Leeds for its first ever launch in the north in partnership with two Co-op stores and the city council.

The robots were spotted on route familiarisation training in Adel last week, and Co-op confirmed that the west Leeds village and nearby Tinshill would be within the delivery radius for the scheme’s pilot in the city from November 30.

Two Co-op stores – Spen Lane and Otley Road – will initially take part and between them can service the orders of 20,000 residents.

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Customers can download the Starship app, schedule a delivery for within an hour of placing an order, drop a location pin to receive it and are then provided with a unique code to access the robot.

One of the robotsOne of the robots
One of the robots

Users can watch their robot’s progress in real time and receive an alert when it arrives. Starship unveiled the technology in 2018, and it has been rolled out mainly in the south of England so far, with pilots in Cambridge, Northampton, Bedford and Milton Keynes.

Starship promotes the robots as environmentally friendly, taking delivery vans off the road, and claim an average journey consumes a similar amount of energy to boiling a kettle.

They can cross roads safely, navigate around people and street objects, are battery-powered and travel no faster than 4mph. Their navigation aids enable them to choose the quickest and safest route and their contents are secure, with only the customer able to unlock them. They have alarms which activate if they are picked up.

The trial in north-west Leeds will last for three months.

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Leeds City Council’s Coun Helen Hayden said: “As a council we are absolutely committed to delivering alternative, sustainable methods of travel to help reach our target of becoming net-zero by 2030. We are trying to reduce the number of short journeys made by car, including those made by delivery vehicles.

“Since the pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in the number of home deliveries. This pilot will be transformative and will provide an alternative home delivery provision which will particularly benefit residents with mobility problems or those facing other challenges which make accessing local facilities difficult.”

Starship Technologies confirmed they would look to expand the service to other parts of Leeds and Yorkshire if the trial was successful.