Alepa introduces robotic food deliveries in Otaniemi, first in Finland

Starting in spring, Alepa customers can order food delivered to their home by a transport robot. Robot deliveries will initially start in six Alepa stores in the Espoo region. The first transports will start on the Aalto University campus in Alepa Otaniemi, in shopping center A Bloc
The transport robot can hold up to three grocery bags at a time. Image: HOK-Elanto.

Alepa, a convenience store chain operating in the Helsinki metropolitan area, is introducing a completely new way of delivering food by starting cooperation with the robot manufacturer Starship Technologies. Transport robots developed by Starship deliver purchases from Alepa stores to the delivery address specified by the customer. Alepa is the first operator in Finland to introduce robotic food deliveries.

"With the help of robots, we are able to offer our customers a new convenient, environmentally friendly, contactless and affordable way to deliver online shop orders. These robots have already delivered millions of orders worldwide and I believe they will be popular in Finland as well. We look forward to hearing what kind of feedback the robots get from our customers”, says HOK-Elanto’s director of e-commerce development Jukka Ranua.

Deliveries will start today in Otaniemi

Starship's robotic deliveries will begin on Tuesday, 12 April in Alepa Otaniemi. Next week, the delivery scope of the transport robots will expand to cover the vicinity of five other Alepa stores in Espoo. Alepa Mankkaa, Alepa Jousenpuisto, Alepa Otaniemi, Alepa Laajalahti, Alepa Leppävaara and Alepa Matinkylä will make robot deliveries available to a total of 8,000 households in Espoo.

In practice, the robot delivery is ordered through the Starship mobile application. Alepa's staff packs the ordered purchases and loads them onto the robot. The robot's transport box can hold up to three grocery bags at a time. Using artificial intelligence, the robot plans the most suitable route to the delivery address and sets off. The route travels along pedestrian pathways and the robot recognizes potential obstacles as well as people and vehicles and can operate in traffic.

When the robot reaches its destination, the customer receives a notification on their phone informing them that the order has arrived. The application also allows you to track the progress of the transport in real time. The cover on top of the robot opens using the application.

Convenient and environmentally friendly delivery method

The new delivery method is more environmentally friendly than cars and is used within the opening hours of the above-mentioned Alepa stores. Twilight does not affect the speed of deliveries, as the robots can navigate even in the dark. They can cross streets and curbs and run in rain or snow, for example. Emission-free robots run 99 percent of the time independently, but humans monitor their activity and can take control at any time.

Placing an order delivered by the transport robots is convenient and easy with the Starship Food Delivery application. It is available for download as iOS and Android apps.

Image: HOK-Elanto

Facts about transport robots

  • Alepa will initially deploy a total of 60 transport robots.
  • The robot weighs about 35 kilos and can carry 2-3 grocery bags at a time.
  • The electric zero-emission robot monitors its surroundings with 12 cameras and travels at a speed of about 6 kilometers per hour. With the help of artificial intelligence, it is constantly learning more about its environment.
  • The robot has a voice feature that also allows it to communicate.
  • Starship robots have already delivered more than 3 million deliveries worldwide.
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