S Group and Starship Technologies are launching robot deliveries in seven cooperative regions in Finland, the firms recently announced.

The rollout of express deliveries with emission-free robots will take place in phases over the spring and summer. It is being implemented by S-kaupat, the online grocery store of Finnish retail operator S Group, in partnership with Starship Technologies

The robots are being introduced as demand grows for groceries to be delivered quickly to customer’s homes, especially in urban areas. According to the firms, the autonomous machines, on average, deliver the goods to the customer within an hour of the order.

In the first phase, the robot deliveries will start in the HOK-Elanto area, where the robots were successfully piloted last spring. In the next phase, over the summer, the service will open across seven locations including Tampere, Turku, Pori, Rauma, Jyväskylä and Oulu. The deliveries are available in the S-kaupat app, which can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store.

“Demand for fast delivery is growing strongly and this is also reflected in our future plans. With Starship’s robot technology, we can offer our customers fast and reliable delivery of their purchases across Finland, and in a rather delightful way,” said CDO Jarkko Kyttänen, S Group Retail.

How do they work?

Starship’s robots use artificial intelligence (AI) and GPS positioning to plan their routes. The robot knows all the details of its environment and routes, including road crossings, and AI learns more about the environment all the time. Starship robots make more than 140,000 street crossings every day around the world.

The robot works autonomously, but humans can monitor and take control if needed, although 99% of the time, the robots are travelling on their own. The robot has twelve cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radars. It takes advantage of computer vision, as well as technology that detects various obstacles. The robots stop quickly if an obstacle is detected. The battery-powered robots have completed over four million deliveries globally while an added benefit is reduced traffic congestion and CO2 emissions in towns and cities.

“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with S Group to multiple locations across Finland! Our successful partnership in Espoo last year showed the tremendous demand for robot deliveries among Finns. We’re confident that communities all over the country will also embrace our innovative service, making delivery services an essential part of everyday life. Finland is our ‘home market’, with our R&D center in Helsinki driving the design and development of our robots,”Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies said.