Hermes Germany and the Estonian start-up, Starship Technologies, have begun testing package delivery per robot in Ottensen, Hermes announced Wednesday. Test drives are presently underway in Volksdorf and deliveries will start there next week, it added. Tests in Grindelviertel will probably begin in mid October.
Three Starship robots are delivering packages from Hermes parcel receiving offices to select customers at home. The vehicles will not be replacing the usual door-to-door delivery services. The deployment in Hamburg will last until late 2016 initially.
Glimpse of logistics in future
Frank Rausch, CEO of Hermes Germany, said: “The start of the test phase is a milestone for us. Never before have robots helped us deliver packages. And although the project is still in the very early stages, the test of Starship robots gives us a fascinating glimpse of logistics in future.”
Ahti Heinla, CEO of Starship, said: “The test phase of our delivery robots has begun officially. As the second biggest city in the country and important trading place, the city is ideally suited for testing new logistics’ technologies. We are eager to see how the test phase goes and to convincing many people of our idea.”
Andreas Rieckhof, State Councillor at the Ministry of the Economy Transport, Innovation, said: “I am delighted that Hermes has chosen Hamburg to test this innovative package delivery service. This pilot test is an important component for Hamburg en route to becoming a model region of low-emission, inner city deliveries. The innovative location of Hamburg offers a suitable ground for sending clear signals in this sector.”
From shop to door
Customers no longer have to pick up their packages in a Hermes shop. Now, select test customers can order a delivery per smart phone and can decide on the time as well. Each robot transports up to two Hermes S packages measuring 35×34×15 cm each in a locked compartment. As soon as the robot has reached its destination, the recipient gets an SMS notification and can take the delivery at their door. A code unlocks the storage compartment. If someone tries to force it open, the robot sounds the alarm and informs headquarters automatically.
Constant contact to headquarters
No job losses will result from using the robots. Hermes is instead providing a new service to simplify the delivery of packages. The robots are in constant contact with an operator, supervising the delivery in Starship’s headquarters. The operator can intervene, if necessary. A dealer, who accompanies the robot, is in constant contact with headquarters, monitors the route, answers queries and can intervene locally, if necessary meaning the Starship robot is not entirely independent. GPS and localisation technology help pinpoint the robot’s exact location down to an inch.
No incidents so far
Starship robots travel on foothpaths and at walking speed only. Bicycle baths and roads have to be inspected by the dealer and approved by headquarters. The robot recognises obstacles thanks to in-built camera sensors and stops immediately. So far, no incidents have been reported during tests in Hamburg, London, Washington and the Estonian capital Tallinn.