- Robotic delivery startup Coco is entering the grocery industry with a new model of its remotely operated delivery vehicle that has a larger capacity and longer range than the original design, the company announced in a press release Thursday.
- Los Angeles specialty grocer Erewhon Market will be the launch customer for the upgraded vehicle, which Coco is producing in partnership with Segway, known for its electrically powered personal transporters.
- Coco is joining several other delivery vehicle startups looking to help grocers make e-commerce more efficient.
Coco's new cart, known as the Coco 1, has a more efficient drivetrain than its predecessor and features a larger battery capacity that permits it to travel up to three miles from a store, a distance that is nearly twice the range of the earlier model, according to the press release.
The vehicles transmit audio warnings to alert people to their presence, and drivers are able to communicate with pedestrians, according to Coco's website.
The vehicle, which can accommodate four full-size grocery bags, is equipped with an array of cameras and sensors that transmit information about its location, surroundings and potential obstacles to a remotely located human driver.
Segway's Robotics Mobility Platform, the basis for the company's people-movers, is serving as the foundation for Coco's new delivery vehicle, according to the announcement.
"Amidst the ongoing labor shortage and growing demand for delivery robots, we believe that Coco is embarking on an exciting journey in a blue-ocean market," Tony Ho, Segway's vice president of global business development, said in a statement.
Coco, which launched its brand in 2020 and recently closed a $36 million Series A round of funding, faces competition from several other companies that also are working with grocers to transport deliveries to customers. Those companies include Tortoise, which is working with Choice Market and Safeway, Cleveron and Nuro, which is working with Kroger and has financial backing from the grocer.
Erewhon plans to use the Coco 1 vehicle at all seven of its locations, according to the announcement. The grocer plans to add two stores in 2022 and two more the following year, Kabir Jain, chief growth officer of Erewhon, said in a November interview.
Erewhon has also recently made changes to the technology it uses to take in and manage online orders. In November, the company said it had signed on with Homesome, an e-commerce technology provider that specializes in working with independent retailers, in an effort to streamline its e-commerce operations.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount Coco brought in through its Series A funding round. The company raised $36 million.