Home delivery is about to get a makeover in the United Kingdom.
Just Eat, an online food order and delivery service, has teamed with startup Starship Technologies to launch a new service where robots will courier take away food to customers.
The deliveries will be performed by battery-powered devices that can travel at a top speed of 6.4kms an hour and comes equipped with cameras and sensors, to negotiate streets, pathways, and everyday ‘hazards’ like pedestrians and traffic.
Other safety features include a loudspeaker trigger system as well as a conventional ‘silent alarm’ with a security camera setup that sends real-time data directly to the bot’s minders.
The service starts with an online order through Just Eat’s app. Once the order is received from the restaurant, the delivery is loaded into the storage compartment of the robot.
To make sure the load is secure, the customer receives a unique code via mobile that will provide access when it arrives at the destination.
Designed to be autonomous, the robots will be rolled out in inner city London soon, but their operations will be monitored in control centres.
In the event of a mishap, problems, or difficulties, technicians will intervene and take over the robot to ensure orders are delivered.
Starship Technologies began in 2014 by Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis.
Recently, they announced the robots have already clocked approximately 8,047 kms in tests in the UK and the USA.
Announcing these trials, Heinla said that the bots have been in development for over two years and that so far pedestrians have received them well: “Our robots are a totally new class of devices that will provide a combination of low cost and convenience with less congested streets and zero emissions.”
If successful in the UK, Just Eat has plenty of options if they wish to expand the robot delivery service.
Still, Starship Technologies have made it clear in their public utterances that they are intended as a comprehensive personal delivery system ideal in any number of scenarios.
They believe they can make on-demand local deliveries for £1 per shipment. This kind of order can cost consumers in London £12 for a single package.
The robot is a solution that relieves customers and service providers of the ‘last mile problem’ – that short ‘hop’ that is most cost inefficient moment in the delivery chain.
In the US, Walmart has been experimenting with airborne robots to resolve this same issue.
While Domino’s Pizza has been testing its own delivery robot, called DRU and developed by Sydney-based startup Marathon Robotics.