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Albertsons is working with Tortoise, a Silicon Valley startup, to test remote controlled delivery robots at a pair of northern California Safeway stores.

According to the story, "Safeway-branded delivery carts equipped with Tortoise’s sensors and software will be able to deliver goods to customers up to three miles from the store location. Remote-control operators located thousands of miles away will guide the delivery cart to its destination.

"The delivery carts, which can hold up to 120 pounds of groceries in four lockable containers, will initially have a human escort. The aim is the remove the extra guide once the pilot is established. Once the delivery cart arrives, the customer receives a text to come outside and pick up their groceries."

The test represents a shift in approach at Albertsons when it comes to innovation and technology.

"Our team is obsessed with trying new and disruptive technologies that can bring more convenience for our customers," Chris Rupp, EVP and chief customer and digital officer said in a statement.  "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."

It is expected that if the initial two-store test is successful, the pilot will be expanded to other stores.

KC's View:

It is extraordinary the degree to which robotics are being utilized in a wide variety of pilots and tests being undertaken by retailers.  While I must admit to being a little skeptical about this particular segment of the robotics industry, I could easily be wrong about it.  Besides, the whole point is to try new and disruptive technologies and see what happens.

Besides, as Jeff Bezos likes to say, it isn't an experiment if you know how it is going to turn out.