MILTON KEYNES, England – The robotic fleet on wheels that deliver shopping in the British city of Milton Keynes has increased in popularity because its population is trapped inside the house due to locking coronavirus.
The robots, which are about knee-high in adults and look like soft white plastic boxes mounted on six black wheels, are a common sight in the city, where they have been delivering food for over two years.
But since the government imposed strict social distance measures on March 23, the devices have become busier than before, giving away free National Health Service (NHS) staff and facing increasing demand from the general public.
“We currently offer free shipping to all NHS workers in the community. We want to make life a little easier for these people in these very, very stressful times, “said Henry Harris-Burland, from Starship, a company that makes robots.
“Many of them do … 80 hours a week and they don’t have time to go to the local grocery store, so they use our robot to shop,” he said. “We are honored that we can be part of the solution.”
The robot has what looks like an antenna, topped with a small red flag to make it easier to see them when they do their turns. They are large enough to hold several grocery bags and a packet of bottles.
Starship has doubled the robot shipping fleet at Milton Keynes to 70 in the past three weeks. Harris-Burland said they had completed 100,000 autonomous shipments in the city.
“Many residents have reached us online asking us to send to their neighborhoods,” he said.
“We are doing everything we can as quickly as possible to expand to offer this service to more people, especially at this very important time.”
(Reporting by Will Russell; writing by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison)
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