Technology

Reindeer Robots Deliver for Save Mart

Rudolph's making contactless grocery deliveries this year
Rudolph Robot
Photograph courtesy of Save Mart

There's a new Dasher in town.

Modesto, Calif.-based Save Mart has decked out nine of its contactless delivery robots for the holidays, giving the six-wheeled, cooler-shaped bots animated eyes, rosy cheeks and jingle-bell-adorned antlers. Santa's entire reindeer fleet, including Rudolph and Dasher, is represented.

The robots, developed in partnership with robot technology specialist Starship Technologies, debuted (unadorned) at Save Mart's flagship Modesto location in September. They can carry up to 20 pounds and travel up to 4 miles round-trip.

The reindeer bots will be making runs in Modesto until Dec. 26, Save Mart noted in a news release.

Delivery by robot "has offered shoppers an added solution for efficient, safe,and healthy grocery shopping, as well as joyful entertainment," according to Save Mart.

Shoppers who opt for delivery by bot place their order via the Starship–Food Delivery app; orders are fulfilled by Save Mart team members. An interactive map lets customers track their robot's progress; customers then receive an alert when their order arrives. Scanning a mobile code on the app unlocks the robot for order retrieval. Robots then head back to the store to be sanitized inside and out before their next delivery. 

Save Mart is the first grocery partner for San Francisco-based Starship, which was founded by two former Skype co-founders. Starship's robots travel at "a pedestrian speed" and are able to navigate around objects and people, offering an efficient and eco-friendly option for last-mile delivery, the company states on its website. 

Save Mart, which operates 83 stores in and around California's Central Valley, is the eponymous brand of parent company The Save Mart Cos., which also operates the Lucky, Lucky California, FoodMaxx and Maxx Value Foods brands.

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