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Self-Driving Courier Robot Trial Comes to London Later This Year

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The city of London, England, is home to quite a few innovative concepts. As of right now, there are plans on the table to deploy a fleet of self-driving delivery robots. This project will be carried out by courier firm Hermes, who aim to deploy six-wheeled robots on the streets of London. It is quite an intriguing concept that will shake up courier delivery as a whole.

Self-driving Courier Robots To Invade London (Again)

It has to be said, the thought of seeing self-driving robots on six wheels zip by on the sidewalk is quite amusing. These self-driving delivery robots can achieve a top speed of 4 miles per hour, which means they will not bowl over someone anytime soon. That is quite a relief to a lot of consumers. Moreover, they can carry up to 10kg of delivery goods at a time, which makes them quite intriguing grocery shopping companions.

Hermes, the company planning to conduct this trial, has mentioned the vehicles will be deployed in Southwark, a borough of London, England. An undisclosed number of six-wheeled self-driving robots will hit the streets later this year. Right now, the focus lies in making the robots transport packages all throughout the borough. Once they arrive at the predetermined destination, the recipient can enter a code on the robot to retrieve their shipment. These codes will be sent to consumers through an SMS.

What Is even more interesting is how it is not the first time people will encounter these particular robots in London either. Just Eat, a world-renowned for ordering and delivery service, has been using the exact same model of the self-driving robot for some time now. Hermes is focusing on collecting shipments first, before using them for the delivery of parcels and shipments. The same principle of SMS codes still applies before clients can hand over the package to the robot.

Given their somewhat low maximum speed, the objective is to limit their use to 30-minute collection jobs in the Southwark borough. More specifically, the robots will only be allowed to operate within a two-mile radius of the Hermes control centers. Human operators will be tasked with monitoring and supervising three robots each. It is evident such an interesting project will require human supervision for quite some time to come. Even though just Eat has been quite successful in their venture, things can always go awry.

Every self-driving robot will be equipped with multiple on-board cameras. Additionally, the human supervisors can remotely control the machine if a problematic situation arises. Once again, taking such security precautions is absolutely necessary, even though the robots have somewhat of a proven track record so far. Starship Technologies, the company responsible for the production of these robots, is confident one human operator will be capable of controlling as many as 100 robots in the future.

Delivery robots are a very interesting concept to keep an eye on over the coming years. Hermes is one of the few companies actively looking to use this technology for the collection of parcels, rather than distribution. It is unclear how this project will affect the future of courier services in the UK, although most companies will see this as a valuable addition, rather than a competing technology. Until the range of operations is extended well beyond the two-mile mark, Hermes’ project will not bring much competition to existing courier services by any means.

Starship Technologies Delivery Robot

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