Amazon may be about to join the race to have delivery robots roaming our streets, but rather than notify the recipient that a delivery robot is patiently waiting outside your door, Amazon propose to equip their delivery robots with the capability to open gates, doors and garages so that they can leave your package in a safe place. Yes, they’re planning on delivery robots which can actually deliver your parcel rather than just transport it.
It’s all revealed in Amazon’s Autonomous ground vehicles based at delivery locations patent which describes a fleet of robots which would travel out from a user’s residence or apartment building to meet a delivery truck on the street to receive items. They may be joined by delivery robots from other locations and would line themselves up in order of address and once loaded from the delivery vehicle would disappear up the streets back to their home bases loaded with parcels.
Amazon do of course already have a ton of experience of robots with their Kiva warehouse robots so the concept is nothing new. However warehouse robots work in a confined space with a flat floor and the proposition of robots delivering to the public travelling down bumpy streets is a very different proposition.
The unique points in Amazon’s patent is that the robots would be able to open barriers in their path such as gates and doors and be able to unload themselves to place item in the storage compartment at the receiving location – that is to actually complete the delivery.
Delivery Robots are an interesting way to ease the ever growing deluge of parcels and number of delivery trucks driving down every road in the country. If you want to see them in real life then head to Milton Keynes and if you hang around long enough you’ll bump into a Startship robot which are performing real life deliveries.
There may be a limit to how many deliveries robots can handle the millions of parcels despatched each day. Even if deliveries could be performed in just 10 minutes for a return journey that would require tens of thousands of robots wandering the streets for a single digit percentage of daily deliveries and if we look at the entire delivery industry with billions of parcels a year then 100s of thousands, perhaps millions of delivery robots would be required.
Of course delivery robot usage would likely be limited to more heavily populated areas with good pavements and access to properties. They may form a small part of the delivery landscape but don’t expect all your parcels to be delivered by robot any time soon.