Hermes has begun to test autonomous delivery robots in London, and expect to start full trials soon.
The consumer delivery company, in partnership with Starship Tehcnologies, has been piloting a self-driving parcel delivery robot in the London borough of Southwark, following on from a similar project in Hamburg, Germany trialled in late 2016.
It is hoped that this new form of delivery will help to create more on-demand services in built up urban areas, acting as an alternative to cars or drones. Currently most towns and cities have strict aviation laws but a ground based robot could help to circumvent these restrictions.
Carole Woodhead, CEO of Hermes, said: “Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm. We are extremely pleased to utilise their expertise to explore exciting new ways that will further strengthen our portfolio of services and offer greater choice and convenience for customers.”
“We can already see first-hand the success they’ve had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace.”
The trials will operate in thirty minute windows, ideally suited for small businesses delivering to customers, or customers returning goods to delivery centres.
The robot itself is a small six wheeled vehicle, 55cm high by 70cm long, which can carry up to 10KG in a secure compartment on top of the vehicle. The robots can travel up to 4 mph and can be used within a 2 mile radius of a controls centre. Upon delivery customers will be able to access the secure compartment via a smartphone app generated link.
It is hoped that in future the vehicles will be 99% autonomous, though they will also have the option for a human operator to connect to and control the device via the internet and GPS.