Self-driving robot delivery guys set to take over UK, Switzerland, Germany

There are big brands which think the robots could rock the industry.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Starship Technologies

Try not to step on them -- the autonomous robot delivery guys which will soon appear on the streets of cities in the UK, Germany and Switzerland.

You could consider the robots the land-based cousins of Amazons' Prime Air delivery drones. Both inventions are based on the same principle: the autonomous delivery of consumer goods.

London-based Starship Technologies, the creator of these robots, says consumers will soon be able to order groceries, packages and food online for delivery by autonomous robots that are located within a two to three-mile radius.

The self-driving robots will wander down city streets towards their location goals while being supervised remotely by human operators in control centers. The eco-friendly robots can handle up to two bags of groceries at a time and are manufactured from off-the-shelf components to keep the cost down.

According to the firm, the robots -- which aim to deliver your goods within 30 minutes -- have already driven themselves almost 5,000 miles and met over 400,000 people since the end of last year in test scenarios.

Online takeaway order service Just Eat, German delivery firm Hermes, German retailer Metro Group and London food delivery startup Pronto have all signed up to trial the robots.

Starship Technologies, launched by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014, hopes to make robot delivery a sustainable, viable alternative to traditional human handlers. As part of the program, dozens of robots will be sent to five cities to run test deliveries -- as well as test public reaction to the robots.

"The partners we're working with are at the top of their game -- passionate, driven and quick to embrace new technology, making them the perfect choice for us to truly demonstrate our robotic delivery solution," said Allan Martinson, chief operating officer Starship Technologies.

"We're sure to come up against challenges on our journey, but our aim will never change -- to redefine convenience and customer service for the consumer, whilst making the last mile industry for businesses cost effective, efficient and profitable."

Why would consumers like the idea? While a novelty at the moment, Hermes Germany CEO Frank Rausch said that consumers are no longer happy with the idea of waiting hours for a package, and as online shopping rates continue to increase, delivery firms need to seek out new ways to make "online shopping orders as fast and convenient as possible."

As a result, short-distance, robot delivery could fill a niche for individually scheduled deliveries which are convenient for customers and also potentially less expensive for companies to offer as there could be savings not only in employee wages but also fuel costs and vehicle wear-and-tear.

See also: Amazon unveils delivery by drone: Prime Air. No, seriously

Starship says the pilot scheme will launch in London, Dusseldorf, Bern and another German city with other European cities and a test launch in the United States due to follow suit.

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