These days, automation is happening across many industries, and deliveries might be the next industry in line. Alibab recently revealed a new final mile carrier robot called the G Plus. This makes them one of the newest companies to work on automating final mile deliveries, but they are notable for the fact that they’re the first that have managed to move past the pilot stage and into actual commercial operations.
These new bots can deliver parcels, groceries, and food to you, at least if you’re on campus environments and within residential neighbourhoods. One of the key markets is delivering goods from restaurants, stores, and specialised hubs to customers, and businesses within an hour’s time, tops. The robots are tracked, and can be monitored via a smartphone, allowing for better transparency. The fee is also pretty low; $1.99 in the US, £1 in the UK.
The customers get an app on their smartphone, which they use to set an order, then sticks a pin on the digital map where they want their stuff delivered. The delivery point can be wherever the customer wants, and only they can open the robot via the same app. Recently, Co-OP, a grocery store in the UK, partnered up with Starship to use these final mile carrier robots.
The bot can carry 20lbs in weight, or about 3 shopping bags. The developers of the G Plus says that the robots aren’t insulated, which is why they don’t take orders for things that need to remain hot or cold that are more than 45 minutes of travel away, but they’re working on getting the robots properly insulated.
The robots have radar, ultrasonic, stereo vision, and time of flight cameras to let it navigate, both at day and night, as well as during sunny or rainy weather. The navigation system is based on Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, allowing them to triangulate themselves. The robots also stops or manoeuvres around any obstruction, and they only go 4mph, max, so they’re safe around people.
These bots rarely need help, and they’re also guided by a network set up by Starship, with control towers in Estonia and Washington DC, which the robot can turn to for help. Someone will then take control of the robot to help it navigate. Most of the time, however, these robots, the latest development in delivery and automation, can handle themselves just fine.