First ‘robotic supermarket’ to open in Miami; further launches planned for US and Europe
The first ‘robotic supermarket’ is set to open in Miami, Florida. The facility uses robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to retrieve groceries from closely-stacked shelves and pack them into shopping bags. It can fulfil orders of up to 60 items in minutes, and deliver to local grocery stores for collection.
Customers will be able to make orders online, and collect them, pre-packed, from local stores and pick-up points. Hispanic chain Sedano’s Supermarkets has already signed to use the first fulfilment centre for deliveries to 14 of its outlets in Miami. Services will start next month.
Massachusetts-based Takeoff, architect of the retail solution, said it is working with five further US retail chains, some regional and some national, to deploy additional sites in urban and suburban areas in 2019. Further sites partnerships are being worked on in the US and Europe. Retailers can turn “under-utilised real estate” into micro distribution centres, it said. Its new warehouses have one-eighth the footprint of a typical supermarket.
Takeoff has a deal with Austrian firm Knapp, maker of automated warehouse solutions, for the robots that provide the main staffing at the facilities. Takeoff provides the AI, it said. Customers will be able to make orders on retailers’ own websites, either via their e-commerce platforms or Takeoff’s customised user interface.
The robot workforce will be supplemented by human employees, deployed in the main part to oversee the distribution centre and move goods to pick-up points. Sedano’s will provide staff in support of the service, according to the press announcement.
Jose Vicente Aguerrevere, co-founder and chief executive at Takeoff, said: “Grocers have been dipping their toes in e-groceries for years. Now it’s time to jump in with both feet. Our automated, hyperlocal micro-fulfilment centre enables grocers to thrive.”
Max Pedro, co-founder and president of Takeoff, said: “We’re robotising the supermarket, which has never been done before. This is the first of many deployments we are working on. Shoppers will soon see more local grocery stores with micro-fulfilment centres.”
Takeoff (see promo video below) has just closed Series B financing led by Forrestal Capital, taking its total capital raised to $46 million.
Javier Herran, chief marketing officer for Sedano’s, said: “This model gives us the ability to leap into the e-grocery industry, develop a new level of employment opportunities and continue meeting the needs of our valued consumers by offering an affordable and convenient online service.”