Self Point makes digital commerce software that allows grocery retailers to build their own websites that integrate point of sale, inventory management and order fulfillment. Tortoise makes a teleoperated electric cart built for transporting heavy loads like groceries. With the Tortoise integration, Self Point’s grocery customers can add robots as a delivery option on orders.
You can check out a video of the Tortoise in operation here:
Tortoise sets itself apart from other players in the last mile robotic delivery space such as Starship, Refraction and Nuro in a couple of ways. First Tortoise is proudly not autonomous. All Tortoise robots are teleoperated remotely by human drivers. By taking this approach, Tortoise believes it can get to market faster by avoiding some of the hesitations some local governments have with the safety self-driving robots on city sidewalks.
Tortoise is also not positioning itself as an on-demand delivery service. Tortoise is not meant to get you groceries in under a half hour. It’s meant to be scheduled ahead of time. Though it does appear that with Self Point, Tortoise robots will be available same day.
The Self Point + Tortoise partnership is certainly coming at the right time. Earlier this year, the pandemic pushed online grocery shopping sales, and by extension grocery delivery, to record-shattering new heights. Though those numbers have come down in recent months, grocery e-commerce is expected to represent 21.5 percent of total grocery by 2025.
As such we’ll see more grocers going online and needing more options for order fulfillment. Walmart has been doing automated grocery deliveries with Nuro in Houston, TX. Refraction has been doing grocery delivery in Ann Arbor, MI, and in Modesto, CA. And Save Mart is using a fleet of 30 Starship robots to make deliveries.
The robotic delivery market is definitely heating up, and it’s not to hard to imagine through deals like the one with Self Point, Tortoise could arrive in a bunch of neighborhoods rather quickly.