The tech startup Tortoise initially pitched its remote-controlled robots as an ultrafast delivery solution to companies like Instacart. But with the collapse of several ultrafast-grocery players, Tortoise has shifted its focus and is using its “floating” robotic warehouses as mobile vending machines.
Tortoise’s first large-scale national retailer partnership is with Walmart. In late July, the retailer began using a Tortoise robot to sell beef jerky and Kinder chocolate eggs to shoppers waiting for curbside-pickup orders in the parking lot.
The Tortoise robots work like automated vending machines that can drive to a shopper’s vehicle. Once shoppers tap and pay with a credit card, the lid opens so they can grab their item. Dmitry Shevelenko, Tortoise’s cofounder and president, said retailers like Walmart were hoping to recapture sales of nonessential grocery items that consumers toss in their baskets when they shop in store.Business Insider