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'Ground drones': Delivery robots expected to hit the market next year

'Ground drones': Delivery robots expected to hit the market next year

United Kingdom

How would you like to go shopping but not have to carry the grocery bags yourself?

That could soon be possible thanks to a new technology being piloted.

Estonian start-up firm Starship Technologies has started test runs of its self-driving delivery robots in Greenwich, London.

So, it has a bunch of sensors and technology. It has the GPS, it has nine cameras - and obviously it has the gyroscopes and things like that and a bunch of other sensors internally as well

The company set up by two former co-founders of Skype said last year that it was developing a fleet of pint-sized lunar rover-type robots which will reinvent delivery service.

The robots designed for local distribution of goods and groceries are small autonomous drones which look like a fridge on wheels.

They use the pavement and travel at speeds of up to 6km/h (max). They produce zero emissions.

The robots can carry the equivalent of two grocery bags and complete local deliveries between five and 30 minutes.

“We realized less than two years ago (with my co-founder, Janus Friis), that it is possible to automate last mile delivery using essentially today’s technology,” said Ahti Heinla, Chief Executive of Starship Technologies.

The technology also allows customers to choose from a selection of short, precise delivery slots which means the goods arrive at a time that is convenient for them.

“So, it has a bunch of sensors and technology. It has the GPS, it has nine cameras – and obviously it has the gyroscopes and things like that and a bunch of other sensors internally as well. And it’s mostly built on mobile phone technology because actually mobile phones have all of that,” Heinla added.

The GPS component makes it easy for shoppers to actually track the robot’s location in real time using a mobile app.

Although the ‘ground drones’ as some prefer to call the robots are autonomous, they can be remotely controlled to ensure safety at all times or if the autonomous operation fails.

Commercial use of the ‘ground drone’ is expected to commence in 2017 as tests are run in the UK and US this year.

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