Concept: Albertsons Companies (Albertsons) has partnered with Silicon Valley tech startup Tortoise to pilot test automated groceries delivery. The collaboration leverages remote-controlled delivery robots, augmented by Tortoise, to deliver groceries from the retail stores to the customers’ doorsteps.

Nature of Disruption: The pilot has been planned to commence at a couple of Safeway (owned by Albertson’s) retail locations in Northern California where Safeway-branded delivery carts packed with Tortoise’s sensors and software has been planned to deliver goods to buyers up to three miles from the store location. Remote-control operators seated at far distances will navigate the delivery cart to its destination. The delivery carts, which can contain about 120 pounds of groceries in four lockable containers, will initially have a human escort. The aspiration is to withdraw the extra guide once the pilot is established. Once the delivery cart arrives, the buyers get a text to come outside and pick up their groceries.

Outlook: Covid-19 crisis has bought major changes in various industries like retail, where retailers have noticed a surge in online shopping. Meanwhile, some of the retailers have implemented a contactless delivery system and are looking for advanced technologies such as robotics and AI to reduce pressure on workers and increase efficiency. Albertsons’ collaboration with Tortoise can help stores in overcoming the current challenges with automated grocery delivery. It can increase delivery speed and enhance customer experiences.

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