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08/09/2021

Dallas convenience retailer rolling out delivery robot

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Tortoise Cart

Urban Value Corner Store is following in the (robotic) footsteps of some major retailers with an upcoming robotic delivery pilot.

The Dallas-based local convenience chain is partnering with e-commerce solution provider Vroom Delivery and last-mile robot technology specialist Tortoise to offer on-demand delivery of thousands of products in the coming months. Delivery assortment will include grocery staples such as milk and eggs, as well as beverages, ice cream, snacks and more, all delivered in under an hour. Alcohol and tobacco items will also be available for delivery from human drivers.

Each fully-electric Tortoise Cart delivery robot is about the size of a large cooler and is remotely piloted by a human operator. The robots operate on the sidewalks and drive at an average speed of around 3 mph, enabling safe navigation around people, cars, pets, and other obstacles. The cart can carry over 100 pounds of goods in sealed containers, which are remotely opened by the cart operator when it arrives at its destination.

Amazon pioneered remotely operated delivery robots with its 2019 pilot of the six-wheeled Scout device. Other retailers that have since tested four- and six-wheeled robotic delivery vehicles include Safeway and SaveMart.

Urban Value, which operates stores in and around the Dallas area, will initially be piloting the program from its downtown location. Upon the success of the initial pilot, the company intends to continue to roll the program out across the Dallas Metroplex. 

Customers can already order home delivery from Urban Value through the Vroom platform, with robots taking up the last mile responsibilities within the coming months. Vroom Delivery and Tortoise are also making this offering available to other convenience store chains across the country.

"We are very excited to pilot this first-in-market contactless shopping opportunity,” said Steve McKinley, CEO of Urban Value. “I expect that this technology combined with our diverse product offering will provide downtown Dallas residents and office staff a much more convenient shopping experience."

"In addition to the obvious contactless and environmental benefits, what we like about this concept is that this is also a very affordable solution for both the store and the consumer, significantly lowering the average cost of delivery," said John Nelson, CEO of Vroom Delivery.

"We are thrilled to be working with Urban Value, a leading convenience store chain in downtown Dallas, on a pilot deployment in the coming months," said Dmitry Shevelenko, co-founder of Tortoise.