The robot covered 800 kilometres without any accidents or incidents. Key findings were gained by Swiss Post and manufacturer Starship from almost 200 runs. Swiss Post is set to conclude the delivery robot tests at the end of January.
Following on seamlessly from the successful deployment of the delivery robots with Jelmoli in Zurich city center, Swiss Post has now conducted tests in conjunction with the online contact lens provider discountlens.ch in Dübendorf in the Canton of Zurich. During their deployment between mid-October 2017 and January 2018, the delivery robots completed almost 200 runs covering 800 km without experiencing any accidents or collisions. As in previous cases, the robots, although essentially autonomous, were accompanied by a human assistant.
The goal of the test runs was to gather experience with further partners into how the technology can be incorporated into a wide variety of logistics processes. Andreas Hungerbühler, Managing Director of discountlens.ch, is pleased with the results: “The needs of our customers are changing. They are more mobile and want goods ordered today to be with them as quickly as possible. This is why discountlens.ch is testing new delivery concepts, such as delivery by robot. Customers responded very positively to the new technology and wanted to try it out.” The box-like robot caused quite a stir and was constantly being photographed by passers-by. Near to kindergartens, the children almost took it prisoner and followed it at every turn, watching it closely. Some cyclists were hesitant about sharing the road with it, but soon learnt how to deal with its cautious driving style.
Development of the technology
During the pilot phase, Swiss Post managed to gather important findings on using delivery robots with human assistants, which meant the tests in Dübendorf concluded on a positive note. If the robots are to be put to future use on Swiss pavements without supervision, it is important to run tests autonomously. But due to the legal framework in Switzerland, this is not currently possible. This is why Starship Technologies, the manufacturer of the delivery robots, aims to gather findings from fully autonomous operation at a variety of locations around the world. “We are happy to see Starship taking this step,” says Claudia Pletscher, Head of Development & Innovation at Swiss Post, commenting on the decision of the Estonian start-up. “We will be able to benefit from Starship’s experiences at a future point in time.”
Swiss Post is testing new applications in parallel until the law in Switzerland changes to allow test runs to be performed without human supervision in public spaces. “We are concentrating at present on autonomous robots that can transport goods within buildings” continues Claudia Pletscher.
Source: Swiss Post