A fish and chip shop in Milton Keynes has become the first in the UK to deliver food using robots.
Orders come into the takeaway via the Starship app and while Moore’s makes the food, a robot is sent to the shop. A member of staff places the food inside the robot which then travels autonomously to the customer, moving at pedestrian speed and using a range of radars and sensors to navigate around objects and people and even cross roads.
The robots take one delivery at a time and can fit up to six portions of fish and chips inside its dual insulated compartment.
Heather Moore, who bought the takeaway four years ago with her husband Alan, comments: “Starship Technologies have a unit next door to us and they were doing deliveries for the Co-op and asked us if we wanted to include our fish and chips. We weren’t sure at first because of how long it would take; we were worried about the condition of the food when it arrived to the customer and the fact that we would be responsible for that. But the robots take no longer than 20 minutes to deliver an order and so far everyone that has used it is has been very happy.”
It’s the takeaway’s first venture into delivery and since the robots were introduced three months ago it is now receiving around 25 orders a week via the Starship app. Heather comments: “It’s still early days and we’ve not done delivery before as we always seemed busy enough, so it’s getting the message out there to people that we are now offering delivery. It’s an added extra that we can now offer. Delivery is becoming so important and it’s just so easy to order from home these days as there are so many apps available.”
Rather than Moore’s paying commission on orders, Starship adds a small margin to the food order, plus a £1 delivery charge. Heather says it’s this ease of use that makes the service so appealing.
“The robots do all the work, we just cook the food!” she says. “We literally don’t have to do anything, we just treat them like a normal customer, it’s not adding any extra stress as we’re used to long queues.”
Operating in Milton Keynes for over a year now, the robots have grown from servicing 2,000 homes when they were first introduced to 20,000 homes. And they deliver not just fish and chips but also groceries for The Co-op and Tesco, as well as parcels for other local businesses.
Heather comments: “It was a strange sight at first to see the robots going up and down, but if you walk out on to Monkston now there are more robots than humans. They are such an everyday occurrence that no-one bats an eyelid.”
The robots are protected from vandalism and theft by a series of cameras, tracking devices and alarms while the cargo bay itself is mechanically locked throughout the journey and can only be opened by the customer with their smartphone app. The location of the robots is tracked, so customers know where their order is and when it will arrive.
Henry Harris-Burland, VP of marketing at Starship Technologies, says the robots are a valuable asset in Milton Keynes, making local delivery faster, smarter and more cost-efficient.
He comments: “The robots are very popular in the local community and we’re so proud of how well they have been received. For a business like Moores, which didn’t offer delivery before, the Starship robots open up a new revenue stream that wasn’t available to them previously.
“While we do add a margin to the food, it is much, much lower than other food delivery companies.
“Since using the robots, I’ve seen great reviews online of Moores with people saying now they can get their fish and chips delivered and that they can order even more times because they don’t have to go out or put the kids in the car. It’s been really positive.”