Lockdown 2.0: Shopping Robots Deliver Goods in UK Town

A shopping robot delivering goods.

Robots are delivering goods in Milton Keynes, England. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Due to the CCP coronavirus lockdown, people in the English town of Milton Keynes rarely venture outside. This has made things like grocery shopping quite difficult. Thankfully, shopping robots have come to their help as a fleet delivers goods to the residents, easing their burdens.  

Shopping robots

Milton Keynes has been under lockdown since March 23. Starship, which operates the fleet of shopping robots, had been servicing the region even before the lockdown. But the lockdown imposed by the government has doubled the fleet servicing the town to 70 shopping robots. The shopping robots have six wheels and can carry several bags. Each of them has a height equivalent to an adult’s knee height. The company has also made a special concession to National Health Service employees.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

“Right now we are offering free delivery to all NHS workers within the community. We want to make life a little bit easier for these people in these very, very stressful times… Lots of them are doing … 80-hour weeks and they don’t have time to go to the local grocery store, so they use our robots for their shopping… We’re honored that we can be part of that solution,” Henry Harris-Burland of Starship said to Reuters.

The shopping robots are mounted with bright orange flags so that oncoming traffic and people on the streets can see them and take appropriate evasive measures. Users of the service download the company’s app and order what they wish to be delivered — groceries, parcels, or takeaways. The items are collected and the shopping robots deliver them at the user’s preferred location provided it comes within a radius of 4 miles from the business.

Users can scan an app to unlock the storage of shopping robots and take out the items.
Users can scan an app to unlock the robot’s storage and take out the items. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Once the robot arrives, the user can scan the app to unlock the robot’s storage and take out the items. The shopping robots are capable of speeds of up to 4 miles per hour and can even travel on pavements. Starship started operations about 5 years back. Headquartered in San Francisco, it services several cities around the globe. Since April 2018, the company has finished over 100,000 deliveries in Milton Keynes.  

Drone deliveries

In other parts of the world, drones are increasingly being used for deliveries during the lockdown period. In Singapore, the first drone delivery service began by transporting almost two kilos (4.4 pounds) of vitamins to a ship. At present, offshore deliveries are done using helicopters and boats. However, these are expensive options. Using drones, the cost can be cut by almost 80 percent. The country’s civil aviation authority is working with industry players to lay down regulations for the unmanned vehicle industry.

Drone deliveries are becoming common. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In the U.S., Alphabet’s drone delivery company Wing has been seeing a huge rise in demand due to the lockdown, with deliveries almost doubling during early March. Since the drones can travel at speeds of about 65 mph, orders placed are usually delivered within minutes. Even Wing’s test locations in Australia have seen increased use by customers.

In the UK, the government announced that it would use drones to deliver medical supplies from Hampshire to the Isle of Wight since ferry crossings between these two places have been interrupted because of the COVID-19 scare. Experts predict the current lockdown to act as a catalyst for increased deployment of autonomous delivery solutions in the future. This would mean that a large section of employees working as delivery agents will likely have to look for alternative employment.  

Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our email list

Recommended Stories

White radishes.

Foods to Keep Your Lungs Healthy in Winter

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, is spreading fast. Apart from preventive measures ...

A black hole consuming its companion star.

Black Holes Eat Stars in Variable Mood Lighting

When a black hole chews up a star, it produces visible light or X-rays, but ...

A black hole near a red giant star.

Scientists May Have Just Discovered a New Class of Black Holes

Black holes are an important part of how astrophysicists make sense of the universe — ...

A young Chinese girl wearing a mask.

Liberation From the Wuhan Epidemic

The Wuhan coronavirus epidemic in mainland China is spreading across the land at an alarming ...

A patient with caronavius.

China Coronavirus Could Trigger Pandemic: Harvard Epidemiologist

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, a Harvard epidemiologist and health economist, has warned that the Chinese coronavirus ...

Chinese wearing masks.

How Is the Coronavirus Spreading Across the Globe?

The first case of a novel strain of coronavirus has been confirmed in the United ...

Chiang Kai-shek.

How Formal Education in China Was Ruined by Communism

Before 1949, Chinese society, especially university education in China under the Republic of China, enjoyed ...

Dominic Barton.

Canada’s Ambassador to China Says Relations Chilled After Huawei Executive’s Arrest

Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China, recently testified before the special House of Commons committee ...

A young Chinese boy.

A Sordid Tale of Raising a Child in Communist China

Kirsty Needham is a journalist who works as the China correspondent for The Sydney Morning ...

Send this to a friend