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03/05/2021

Albertsons Shows Off Obsession With Innovation

Test underway in northern California with new last-mile delivery vehicle featuring 120-pound capacity
Mike Troy
Editorial Director, Grocery Group
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Albertsons Shows Off Obsession With Innovation
Albertsons Cos. and Tortoise have partnered on an innovative last-mile delivery solution.

A new type of remote controlled delivery vehicle powered by technology from Tortoise is navigating neighborhoods in Northern California where Albertsons Cos. is looking to solve last-mile delivery challenges.

Tortoise is a Mountain View, California-based startup focused on logistics automation and last-mile delivery solutions. The company’s technology is powering a unique looking vehicle with a payload of up to 120 pounds that can accommodate four separate orders.

Albertsons announced its partnership with Tortoise and said the mobile cart would begin making deliveries to employees of Albertsons Safeway stores in unspecified northern California neighborhoods.

“Our team is obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers,” said Chris Rupp, EVP and chief customer and digital officer with Albertsons. “We are willing to quickly test, learn, and implement winning innovations that ensure we are offering the easiest and most convenient shopping experience in the entire industry.”

The Safeway cart is equipped with a camera and a speaker, but unlike other autonomous solutions, the vehicle is guided through neighborhoods by a remote operator. When the cart arrives at a home, the customer receives a text to come outside and pick up their groceries. The electric carts are specifically designed to deliver groceries and parcels and travel at an average speed of three miles per hour.

The initiative is in the early stages of development. So much so that the cart will be accompanied by a human during early testing phases.

Albertsons and Tortoise did not indicate how many of the vehicles are involved in the test.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates 2,252 retail stores with 1,725 pharmacies, 398 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. The company’s stores predominantly operate under the banners Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s, Star Market, United Supermarkets, Market Street and Haggen. The company is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.