Those feeling a little sluggish in the U.K. town of Milton Keynes don’t even need to leave their house to get their morning latte. MKFM reports that Starship robots are now making deliveries of drinks and snacks from the Oakgrove and Sunset Walk Costa Coffee stores in Central Milton Keynes.
Starship has been operating in Milton Keynes for years, delivering things such as groceries and packages. Users interested in getting their Costa Coffee delivered by robot need to download the Starship app to place their order. Deliveries are made within the hour, which seems like a long time in our increasingly on-demand world. Starship’s robots only travel at a pedestrian-friendly pace of 4 mph, which seems like it would cool down coffee before it reaches the customer. But early reports suggest the coffees arrive piping hot.
Though this delivery is limited in scope, the new service is worth highlighting for a couple of reasons. First is the partner, Costa Coffee. We don’t know as of yet if this is an official partnership between the two companies, but this is another robot-related move for the Costa Coffee chain. Last year Costa bought U.S.-based robot barista company, Briggo and re-branded the latter’s automated coffee kiosks as Costa Coffee BaristaBots. This pilot could be a prelude to more widespread robot deliveries for Costa and, looking further out, a first step towards connecting various robot puzzle pieces. Similar to the Kiwibot/Piestro relationship, it’s not hard to envision a BaristaBot one day placing a hot drink inside a Starship robot for a fully automated coffee experience.
The news also fits into a larger pattern of increased activity we’ve seen around delivery robots all year. Here in the U.S. Refraction AI raised funding, while Tortoise started grocery delivery pilots with Safeway and Kiwibot unveiled version 4.0 of its delivery robots. Around the world, more delivery robot services are popping up, from Bizero in Turkey to Woowa Brothers in South Korea to Tiny Mile in Canada. Spurred on by the pandemic and the desire for contactless delivery, the robots are coming to our city sidewalks and streets.
We’ll be discussing issues around this global delivery robot rollout at our upcoming ArticulATE food robotics and automation virtual conference on May 18. We’ll have executives from robot startups like Refraction AI, Tortoise and Ottonomy talking technology as well as policymakers like the Mayor of West Hollywood, Los Angeles talking about what local regulators require before robots can hit public streets. Get a glimpse of our robot future and be a part of the conversation, get your ArticulATE ticket today!