Robot deliveries make an impact with last-mile deliveries
9 Jan 2019 - by
Last-mile supply chain logistics has been identified as a tech trend to follow in 2019 after the same innovators that brought the world Skype managed to successfully roll out robot-driven deliveries in the borough of Milton Keynes some 70 kilometres north-west of London.
Starship Technologies, an Estonian start-up founded by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, first honed in on the south London suburb of Greenwich - but once the testing phase was completed, focused on the “smart city development hub” generally referred to as MK.
Since then the company’s six-wheel boxy buggies with a little bunting flag on top have become a familiar site in the trendy town.
Apart from revolutionising last-mile delivery, the delivery bots are proving particularly popular in bringing office workers their lunch.
Starship said roll-out of the project had exceeded their expectations and start-up simulations elsewhere were fast cottoning on to the human error element of delivery that’s been ruled out by the bots.
Because the bots are controlled via smart phone apps, recipients of goods have a direct say in when and where they want to take possession of their orders, ruling out third party involvement in the delivery process.
Thanks to Starship’s stellar success in MK, American supermarket Kroger is aiming to copy the system for wider, road-based used with Scottsdale, Arizona, identified as an intended launch area.
Thus far in MK the bots have been restricted to pavements and the movement from sidewalk to road is widely seen as a sign of things to come.
Norway has already embarked on a postal delivery system whereby bots are using roads in the town of Kongsberg to bring people their mail.
And a leading hotel group is said to have started using bots for room service until one of its guests thought it funny to commit the world’s first case of taking a bot-bellhop hostage.