British co-operative group Co-op and autonomous delivery vehicle developer Starship Technologies have launched robot deliveries in Bedford, UK.

The companies collaborated with Bedford Borough Council to offer ‘quick and convenient’ grocery deliveries to up to 45,000 residents across 20,000 households in the town.

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Customers from Bedford and Kempston can order grocery items from Co-op’s Goldington, Queens Drive and Kempston stores through Starship’s food delivery mobile app.

A fleet of Starship autonomous robots will fulfil delivery orders.

Co-op e-commerce director Chris Conway said: “Co-op is committed to exploring new and innovative ways to serve our members and customers; they lead busy lives and so ease, speed and convenience are at the heart of our approach.

“We are delighted to be able to expand our partnership to areas of Bedford from today – as a convenience retailer, the ability to come into stores will always be important to customers, but we also know that shoppers want flexible and convenient options online, and so we are focused on providing what our customers want and need, however and wherever they choose to shop with us.”

The expansion of autonomous robot deliveries to Bedford comes after Co-op and Starship successfully operated the service in communities across Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridgeshire.

The companies recently partnered with North Northamptonshire Council to offer autonomous grocery delivery across Wellingborough, Higham Ferrers and Rushden.

Starship’s robots are powered by zero-carbon electricity and use a combination of sensors, artificial intelligence and machine learning to travel on pavements at the speed of a pedestrian.

In a separate development, Amazon has dispatched custom electric delivery vehicles from Rivian to various US cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St Louis.

The e-commerce retailer expects to launch electric delivery vehicles in more than 100 cities by the end of this year and 100,000 across the US by 2030.