Starship Launches Grocery Delivery Service in Bay Area

On-demand robot delivery now available in Pleasanton, CA at Lucky California flagship store

SAN FRANCISCO (February, 2022)  Starship Technologies, the world’s leading provider of autonomous delivery services, is now delivering groceries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Starship is expanding its partnership with The Save Mart Companies for the exclusive launch of an on-demand grocery delivery service at its Lucky California flagship store in Pleasanton, CA. Lucky is the first grocery store in the San Francisco Bay Area to partner with Starship. 

Starship and The Save Mart Companies first partnered in September 2020, when the Save Mart flagship store in Modesto became the first grocery store in the U.S. to offer Starship robot delivery service. Since its launch, that store has expanded its delivery area to serve over 55,000 households. In Pleasanton, the service is launching to thousands of residents, with the delivery area expected to grow rapidly in the coming months, similar to Modesto. 

“We are very pleased to bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to Pleasanton, in partnership with Lucky California,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP of Sales and Business Development at Starship Technologies. “Since launching our service in Modesto in 2020, we’ve been excited to see the extremely positive reaction to the robots and how they were embraced as part of the local community. We think the residents of Pleasanton will appreciate the convenience and positive environmental impact of autonomous delivery and we fully expect the service area to quickly expand to more households.”

The robots, each of which can carry up to 20 pounds of groceries – the equivalent of about three shopping bags – provide a convenient, energy-efficient, and low-cost delivery alternative to driving to the Lucky California store, allowing shoppers to browse thousands of items via the secure Starship app for on-demand delivery straight to their home.

The robots travel autonomously – crossing streets, climbing curbs and traversing sidewalks – to provide on-demand delivery to shoppers. They often become local celebrities as community members share their robot selfies and “love notes” on social media. 

“Since the debut of our contactless delivery service at the Save Mart flagship store, feedback from the Modesto community has been incredibly positive,” said Barbara Walker, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for The Save Mart Companies. “We are thrilled to expand this service to Lucky California in Pleasanton and offer a safe and efficient grocery delivery solution, along with some joyful entertainment, especially as the service area progressively expands over time..”

The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, customers choose from a range of their favorite groceries and drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. When an order is submitted, Lucky California team members gather the delivery items and carefully place them in a clean robot. Every robot’s interior and exterior is sanitized before each order. The customer can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app.

Starship already offers its services in many parts of the EU, UK and the US in cities, university campuses and industrial campuses, with further expansion planned in the near future. Starship is able to do L4 deliveries everywhere it operates – entire cities and campuses. The robots have been operating at L4 since 2018. On a daily basis Starship robots will complete numerous deliveries in a row 100% autonomously, including road crossings. This is why the cost of a Starship delivery is now lower than the human equivalent, which is believed to be a world first for any robot delivery company, whereas most others are still majority human controlled and in pilot mode.

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its zero-emission robots make more than 100,000 road crossings every day and have completed more than 2.5 million commercial deliveries and travelled more than 3 million miles (5 million+ kms) globally, more than any other autonomous delivery provider.

First Day of Safety, Security and Rescue Robots 2010 (SSRR-2010)

Currently I’m participating at the workshop of Safety, Security and Rescue Robots 2010 in Bremen.

The first day is now gone and a lot of interesting talks have been given:

Tetsuya Kinugasa has shown a Flexible Displacement Sensor in his talk of “Measurement of Flexed Posture for Mono-tread Mobile Track Using New Flexible Displacement Sensor“. His group develops and uses this sensor to control the posture of a robot which is a combination of snake, worm and tank.

Jimmy Tran presented his works on “Canine Assisted Robot Deployment for Urban Search and Rescue“. The basic idea is as simple as brilliant, use a equipped dog to find victims and to inform operators about him. So, dogs are well used in rescue and they have a high mobility. They can easily overcome huge rubles and are able to carry video cameras or rescue material. So, his approach is to use the dogs to deploy a small robot next to a victim, which would allow to investigate medical status of the person. The idea is hilarious.

Development of leg-track hybrid locomotion to traverse loose slopes and irregular terrain” is so far the most interesting technical approach of this workshop. It shows a way how a tracked like vehicle can be combined with a semi-Walker.

Donny Kurnia Sutantyo  presented his work on “Multi-Robot Searching Algorithm Using Levy Flight and Artificial Potential Field“, while Julian de Hoog showed a solution for team exploration in “Dynamic Team Hierarchies in Communication-Limited Multi-Robot Exploration”.

The invited speaker Bernardo Wagner showed the outcomes of his department. The Leibniz University of Hannover has worked intensively in the field of “Perception and Navigation with 3D Laser Range Data in Challenging Environments“.

Potential Field based Approach for Coordinate Exploration with a Multi-Robot Team” is topic of Alessandro Renzaglia.

Bin Li showed another nice approach of a shape shifting robot. His robot is able to shape shift it self by rearranging its three motion segments. “Cooperative Reconfiguration between Two Specific Configurations for A Shape-shifting Robot

Jorge Bruno Silva presented a approach of trajectory planing while respecting time constrains in “Generating Trajectories With Temporal Constraints for an Autonomous Robot
Noritaka Sato closed the day by presenting novel a HMI approach for teleoperation. Instead of showing only the direct camera image his group uses temporal shifted images to generate an artificial bird eye view, like it is given in computer car games. “Teleoperation System Using Past Image Records Considering Moving Objects

I am looking forward to listen to the next talks.

Interesting designs for Rescue Robots – Part 2

Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro from the Tohoku University  presents his ASC. ASC is an search camera for usage in emergency situations and stands for Active Scope Camera. In basic it is a flexible endoscope which is able to move by it self. With the help of vibrating inclined cilia this endoscope can like a caterpillar crawl into smallest voids (>30 mm). Its maximum speed is 47 mm/s and the operating range is 8 m. This allows rescue workers to search in rubbles for victims or checking the structure of it.

The following video shows Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro at the Tokyo International Fire and Safety Exhibition 2008 presenting the ASC.

During the Collapse of the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne (March 2009),  Professor Dr. Satoshi Tadokoro, Professor Dr. Robin R. Murphy (Texas A&M University), Clint Arnett (Project Coordinator for Urban Search and Rescue in TEEX), members of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) were trying to support the local fire department. Therefore I was able to test the ASC which was in use during this disaster.

The ASC performs extremely well. It can crawl in a reasonable speed into the rubble and is (after a little training) easy to use. But the biggest problem is the user interface. The ASC camera system does not compensated tilting or turning if the “robot” does flip/turn over, which happens quite often. Hence, it is hard for the Operator to keep track of the orientation. In addition the opening angle of the camera is extreme small, which does even more handicap the situational awareness.

Dennis W. Hong presents RoMeLa

RoMeLa, the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech is currently working on “Robot Evolution Through Intelligent Design”. This means they are taking evolutionary inspired designs and try to adopted them to robotic purpose. Dennis W. Hong, PhD and his students have been creating a lot of really interesting new robots, for example three legged robots, snake like robots or humanoids (e.g. DARwIn). The talk from the TEDxNASA conference, Mr. Hong offers a short overview of their research.

By the way, if you’re wondering about that motto and how “evolution” can meet “intelligent design” here comes the answer. Hong tells us:

“Though it has both evolution and intelligent design in the sentence, it has nothing to do with either – “we” push the boundaries and come up with the next generation robotics (robot evolution) through us doing rigorous research and designing them intelligently (intelligent design). I think it is a clever tag line for our lab.”

Six-Legged Walking Machines

Wheel based movements are well studied and have several advantages. They are simple, energy efficient and do need less expert knowledge. Nevertheless they are not the universal solution. Alternatives like flying, crawling or walking are often more suitable for a specific application but they are really hard do develop and even more hard in terms of usage.

One interesting approach of how to use legs by making usage of neuronal networks is shown by “Biologically inspired six-legged walking machine AMOS-WD06” (Author: Poramate Manoonpong). This project shows an usage of a Hexapod that gets controlled by a neuronal network, how to set it up and how to train it. The results are quit awesome.

Another interesting example of leg usage is given by the A-Pod, a hexapod by Kare Halvorsen which mimics an ant. This black ant which is quite capable of doing natural looking maneuvers. It supports moments of its legs, head, thorax and abdomen, plus it has a claw to perform mobile manipulation. In special the high flexibility and maneuverability in addition to the possibility of mobile manipulation makes this project extremely interesting.

RobotsBlog is alive

RobotsBlog is a new blog focusing on robot topics. It will included news, discussions, articles, and links around the wide field of robotic and AI.

We, the authors, are an international team of junior researchers and actively involved in robotics. And so we are every day seeing the challenging problems and extreme nice solutions and we will try to share as much as possible with you. Our hope is that this platform will help all of us to sort and structure the wide field of robotics a little bit so that other researchers, students and every interested person can maximize their personal benefit which are archival by robotics.

And now it is time to present you some of our previous work.

The first video is showing some test runs of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or for short UAV, which is currently tested by the Fraunhofer IAIS.

The second video shows a autonomous ground base robot using its docking station. The robot does base on a ProfiBot system and is searching autonomously for its docking station if it is needed. After finding it is performing a docking maneuver and charges it batteries.

The next video shows some tests results derived from a computer vision system that is used to detected character based landmarks in the environment. This behavior was needed to participated at the SICK robot day 2009 which we succesfully have done.

So thats all for the starting, new updates are coming and we hope to see you soon again.