Robots arrive in Lehigh Valley, and they bring groceries to your doorstep

A Lehigh Valley store will be one of the first ShopRites in the country to launch a new system for delivering robots to customers’ homes.

The remote-controlled robotic carts called Tortoise are making their debut in stores in Bethlehem and Yardley township for same-day home delivery, the grocery chain announced last week.

The Lehigh Valley program is scheduled to begin in late October at the store at 4701 Freemansburg Ave., according to a press release.

“The demand for ever faster door-to-door delivery continues to increase and we believe this offers ShopRite customers another innovative way to receive their groceries quickly and efficiently,” said Wakefern Chariman and CEO Joe Colalillo, who is also President of ShopRite of Hunterdon County and operating Yardley and Bethlehem stores. “The Tortoise Battery Cart is a unique, environmentally friendly and economical delivery option for our customers who buy online.”

Tortoise trolleys move at an average speed of three miles per hour, either on sidewalks or by the side of the road, and are controlled remotely by trained drivers.

The electric carts were developed by the California-based company of the same name, and Wakefern is the company’s first customer on the east coast to use the robotic delivery system, said Dmitry Shevelenko, co-founder of Tortoise.

ShopRite has 280 branches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland.

The carts, which have lighthouse “eyes” and a red smile on the front, have lockable containers that can hold up to 150 pounds of refrigerated and frozen groceries. ShopRite customers receive a text message which is used to unlock the cart to unload food and supplies.

ShopRite offered online grocery deliveries through other “last mile vendors,” so called because they complete the last leg of supply chain operations, often at the doorstep of a store. customer.

But the company said robotic carts also offer another layer of protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sarah Cassi can be reached at [email protected].

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