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Self-driving delivery bots arrive in the UK

02 May 2018 - 09:26 by Graham Miller

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Business employees and academics can now take advantage of a futuristic new autonomous delivery service offered by Starship Technologies, according to Internet Retailing.

Staff at a number of locations in Britain and the US are being given the opportunity to order food and beverage items from their desk, then have it conveyed to them onboard a self-driving robot.

It takes less than 20 minutes for the robot to arrive after an order has been placed via safe shopping online, although of course the products that it carries are already prepared and stored elsewhere on-site.

This is the same kind of autonomous delivery service that fast food app, Just Eat, is working with in a number of small scale trials across the UK, hinting at the way that this marketplace will change in the course of the next few years.

The robots being used are incredibly compact, with room onboard for just a few items. Since they are battery-powered and capable of detecting obstacles, they should also be able to cope with operating on pedestrian-filled pavements rather than the road.

Such technologies could change the way that standard orders made via safe shopping online are fulfilled, getting rid of van-based deliveries and, instead, creating an alternative which will help to reduce congestion in many urban areas around the country.

The main limitation on the autonomous robots, apart from their size, is their range. They are not designed to cover long distances and so will be better equipped for life on a university campus or within an office complex than anywhere else.

Further improvements will be made before they are rolled out more widely. Meanwhile delivery drones, which can get larger items out to customers more quickly, could be the way forward for the e-commerce market.