Parcel delivery firm Hermes has expanded its partnership with technology developer Starship Robotics to trial several personal delivery devices (PDDs) on the streets of Southwark, London.
The trial follows on the heels of an earlier project between Hermes Germany and Starship Technologies, which deployed the ground-based delivery robots in the city of Hamburg and was launched in August 2016, with three robots deployed in the suburbs of Ottensen, Volksdorf and Grindel.
Hermes will use the testing period to better understand how the robots could enhance the company’s ability to offer an increased range of on-demand solutions as part of its ongoing commitment to providing value-added services.
Initially, the trial will enable Hermes to offer limited 30-minute time slots for the collection of parcels, either for items being returned to retailers, or for items being sent by small businesses or consumers via myHermes. Moving forward, the robots could offer Hermes greater scheduling and tracking capabilities.
The self-driving delivery robots offer a viable alternative to drones, especially in highly developed cities, towns and suburbs where strict aviation laws are in constant operation. Each vehicle incorporates a secured compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg (22 lb) can be transported, and are accessible to consumers via a link generated by a smartphone app. They have six wheels and can travel at speeds up to 4mph.
The robots can be used within a two-mile radius from a control center, where the vehicles are loaded and charged. The aim is for the robots to be 99% autonomous, with the ability to connect to a human operator via the internet and GPS should any problems arise. In future, one operator will be capable of monitoring several robots at the same time and will be able to take control of the robots if required.
Carole Woodhead, CEO of Hermes, said, “Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm. We are extremely pleased to utilize 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 revolutionize the home delivery marketplace.”
April 18, 2017