Do you remember seeing a delivery robot roaming around?
Imagine that one day those small service robots will even be able to deliver your food, allowing faster delivery of your e-commerce orders. This distant future involving robotic package deliveries is now very much a reality !
Delivery robots were initially created by two Estonian and Danish entrepreneurs that decided to start a robotics company called the ‘Starship Technologies’ in 2017. They created automated robots that brings your order directly to your door. Whether for casual shopping, groceries, or anything else, you simply place your purchase through an app connecting you with vendors near your location. The robot then wheels to the vendor, load on your order and delivers it directly to your home, such a smooth and easy process !
Recently, delivery robots have been introduced in China at the start of the year 2020. Chinese e-commerce giants have started to deploy those delivery robots to complete orders. Alibaba, MeiTuan, JD.com have all launched their own projects of ‘contactless delivery’.
Equipped with advanced geo-localisation and deep-learning technologies to help them navigate, those delivery robots are now able to identify obstacles and anticipate the movements of other road users and vehicles. According to DAMO Academy (Alibaba’s own research and innovation institute), these delivery robots can deliver up to 500 parcels a day, for example in a neighbourhood or on a campus, as they can transport around 50 orders at a time and cover a distance of 100 kilometres per load. Aside from Alibaba, earlier in February, JD.com announced that it was delivering medical supplies and groceries to local hospitals and communities using delivery robots during the lock down of the city of Wuhan. In addition, food delivery service giant Ele.me said it installed delivery robots to bring food to rooms in quarantine hotels in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou.
On the other hand, the implementation outside of China initially started in earlier 2020 by Starship Technologies, based in San Francisco. As mentioned above, Starship Technologies are known as the current largest "last mile" delivery robot company in the United States. Moreover, the functions of delivery robots in the US are pretty similar to those in China.
Coming to an end, with semi-autonomous robots beginning to enter the world of humans, there is no doubt that driverless delivery services are likely to flourish in the world. By taking cars off roads, manufacturers of delivery robots showcase better environmental impact and improved standard of living thanks to their technology. However, it is sure that companies not only in China but globally will face challenges because of unexpected real-life situations such as interactions between people, roads and buildings. The industry will seek out to find solutions in order to optimise the community’s utility by providing the most advanced technology to support the deployment of innovative and personalised services.
It is just fascinating how progress in robotics, GPS tracking, automation, and navigation now mean that you might not find a delivery person at your door with your package anymore— but a cute delivery robot instead.