A trial to test the use of autonomous robot ‘couriers’ in providing on-demand deliveries in a live environment is underway in Punggol, a residential district of Singapore.
The public-private trial aims to pave the way for wider use of autonomous robots in making on-demand deliveries to consumers.
The one-year trial is led by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with Housing & Development Board (HDB), Land Transport Authority (LTA), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), logistics service provider CM Logistics, supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice and technology provider, Otsaw.
The trial will see two Otsaw robots delivering parcels and groceries to the lift lobbies of seven Waterway Woodcress HDB blocks, to assess:
technologies such as AI for autonomous navigation, obstacle detection and avoidance
infrastructure such as communications systems and road networks (including connectivity and slopes)
business models for commercial viability.
Through a mobile app, consumers will be notified when the robot is on the way to its destination and will receive a confirmation notification that the robot has arrived.
The robot will also provide a QR code for recipients to scan at the collection point via their mobile phones, thus ensuring that only the authorised person will be able to access to the assigned compartment and its contents.
“With the growth of e-commerce, consumers have grown accustomed to expecting food, products and groceries to be delivered to their home in increasingly shorter periods of time,” said Kiren Kumar, deputy chief executive, IMDA.
“Autonomous delivery robots can play an important role in augmenting existing delivery infrastructure to enhance the consumer experience and drive productivity gains. We look forward to working closely with our partners in this trial to test the technology, safety, business model and user experience.”
Public safety is paramount. To ensure public safety, both autonomous robots have passed the LTA’s safety assessment for the supervised use of autonomous vehicles on public paths, the IMDA reports. The speed for each robot, which weighs 80kg (unloaded), is further capped at walking speeds (about 5km/ph). Each robot will also be accompanied by a safety officer during the trial period.
“Urban logistics keep the city going by delivering goods to people and businesses efficiently,” added Chiu Wen Tung, group director (research and development), URA.
“Employing technology to explore alternate and innovative modes of delivery is one way Singapore builds a world-class urban logistics system that also enhances land and labour productivity. This enables our city to become more liveable, sustainable and connected.”