Save Mart announced today that it it is now using Starship’s sidewalk robots for grocery delivery in Modesto, CA. This is the first grocery partnership for Starship in the U.S.
In a press release sent to The Spoon, Starship said its robots can each carry up to 20 pounds of groceries, or roughly three shopping bags, and can travel up to four miles round trip. Save Mart customers interested in using the service will order groceries directly from the Starship app.
While this is the first U.S. grocery partnership for Starship, the company has been doing robotic grocery delivery in the U.K. for a while now. Here in the U.S., Starship is mostly known for its college campus food delivery, and has lined up a number of partnerships with higher-education institutions including George Mason University, University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But the COVID-19 pandemic caused many schools to shift from in-person to online learning, reducing the need for campus food delivery. Though Starship robots are still active on campuses like the University of Houston and Bowling Green, the company has been expanding outside of schools. Starship added general restaurant delivery to cities like Tempe, AZ, Frisco, TX and Chevy Chase, VA.
While the pandemic may have dimmed Starship’s college go-to market strategy, COVID has spurred an interest in the type of contactless delivery robots brings. Robots don’t get sick, and they remove a vector of human-to-human transmission of the virus. We’ve seen accelerated activity from other players in the robot delivery space like Refraction in Ann Arbor, MI and Kiwibot in San Jose, CA and Denver, CO.
There are still a couple of details we don’t know about Save Mart’s robot delivery program. We’ve reached out to Starship to find out how many robots the store will have in service as well as any delivery fees associated with robot grocery delivery there. UPDATE: A Starship rep told us there 30 robots being used and delivery fees vary based on distance.
It’s a safe bet, however, that given how the pandemic continues its steady presence in this country, we’ll be seeing more grocery partnerships for Starship take off in the coming months.