Save Mart Launches Contactless Robotic Grocery Delivery

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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Save Mart Lauches Contactless Robotic Grocery Delivery Starship Service
Save Mart associates load up Starship Technologies delivery robots at the grocer's flagship store in Modesto, California. Credit: Jay Sousa

The Save Mart Cos. has launched an innovative on-demand grocery delivery service at the Save Mart flagship store in the company's hometown of Modesto, California, in collaboration with robot delivery company Starship Technologies. The rollout of the advanced contactless delivery service solidifies the flagship store's role as an innovation lab and comes just ahead its first anniversary in October.

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

“With the onset of the pandemic, our service became increasingly important to thousands of residents in communities across the U.S.,” noted Ryan Tuohy, SVP business development at San Francisco-based 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 The Save Mart Cos., 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 as much as 20 pounds of groceries, or about three shopping bags, and can travel up to 4 miles round-trip, are designed to provide a safe, low-cost and contactless delivery alternative for Save Mart shoppers, enabling them to order from among thousands of items through the Starship app platform for on-demand delivery to their homes.

To date, Starship Technologies’ robots have completed more than 500,000 autonomous deliveries. The robots move at pedestrian speed and employ a combination of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence and sensors to travel on sidewalks and navigate around obstacles. The computer vision-based navigation helps the robots map their environment to the nearest inch. They can cross streets, mount curbs, travel at night, and operate in both rain and snow. Additionally, a team of humans can monitor their progress remotely and take control at a moment’s notice.

Earlier this year, Starship Technologies entered into a partnership with Broad Branch Market, in the Washington, D.C., area, and last year partnered with George Mason University, in Virginia, to deliver food from a local grocery store and various foodservice outlets to students. Also in 2019, Amazon piloted its own delivery robots, dubbed Amazon Scout, in the Seattle area. Back in 2016, Retail Leader's Mike Troy wrote for sister publication Chain Store Age about a test of Starship Technologies robots at the University of Arkansas to gauge how humans interacted with the autonomous vehicles. Meanwhile, retailers such as Amazon and Walmart have been venturing into airborne delivery drones.

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