Swiss Post to test self-driving delivery robots

From September 2016, Swiss Post will conduct tests with self-driving delivery robots, provided by Starship Technologies, to assess their suitability for goods delivery over the last mile. They have a load capacity of up to 10 kg and can transport goods over a distance of around 6 km.

In specific terms, Swiss Post envisages using this solution for special items that need to be delivered flexibly, quickly and inexpensively in a local neighbourhood. The delivery robots will travel at walking pace on pavements and in pedestrian zones, navigate autonomously to their destination and avoid obstacles and danger points automatically. Some of the conceivable applications include same-day and same-hour delivery, grocery deliveries or even home deliveries of medical products. Depending on the test results, Swiss Post expects to see the first commercial applications starting in three years’ time at the earliest.

The delivery robots will be tested in the municipalities of Berne, Köniz and Biberist, Switzerland, so that they can be assessed in a range of situations. The Starship delivery robots navigate using a mixture of geolocation signals (e.g. GPS) and visual recognition of the environment using multiple cameras. At awkward points and in cases of doubt, a remote operator takes control of the parcel robot from a distance. The parcel robot also “learns” with every journey, thus increasing its level of autonomy. The delivery robots will be accompanied and monitored by a person during the test journeys so that as much information on its operation as possible can be collected.

Source: Swiss Post