KRS Orders 500 Tortoise Delivery Robots to Resell to Convenience Stores

Will slow and steady win the last-mile robot delivery race?

KRS, which provides enterprise software solutions to the convenience, restaurant and, errr, petroleum industries, announced today that it is buying 500 Tortoise robots to resell and distribute as a last mile delivery solution to its clients.

To my recollection, this is the biggest single order/planned deployment that we’ve seen in the last-mile robot delivery space. Other players like Kiwibot and Starship have built up wide scale deployments over time, but KRS is jumping right into the deep end with Tortoise with this big initial buy.

The KRS partnership is just the latest this year for Tortoise, which has really come out of its shell (← Tortoise CEO Dmitry Shevelenko loves puns). The company started a delivery pilot with two Safeways in Northern California back in March, and just a couple weeks ago announced another pilot with two ShopRite locations in Pennsylvania.

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Today’s deal with KRS is similar to the one Tortoise struck up with Vroom Delivery and earlier this summer. Like KRS, Vroom offers e-commerce and delivery services to its roster of convenience store clients. These types reseller agreements are smart for Tortoise because it allows the company to scale its sales nationwide without having to scale its own sales team to approach every single store brand.

It’s not hard to understand why Tortoise is an attractive last mile delivery partner. As I wrote last month, Tortoise offers a unique value proposition among autonomous last mile delivery startups. Tortoise bots are bigger than the competition, with the ability to lug 150 lbs worth of groceries and other goods around. And Tortoises are teleoperated by humans, so its path to market is faster because the company can sidestep concerns from local regulators about self-driving robots on public sidewalks.

With its flexibility and hauling capabilities, expect to see a wide variety of retailers take on Tortoise over the next year.

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