Postmates has revealed a cute autonomous delivery robot called Serve, which seems to take a design cue or two from Wall-E, with its big eyes and yellow finish. While the company has tested third-party autonomous delivery options in the past, it decided to build Serve from the ground up. When Serve shows up at your front door or office, you'll use your phone or a code to unlock the compartment and retrieve your items. The robot can carry up to 50 pounds of goods and can travel up to 30 miles on a single charge. Postmates also plans to collect items with Serve (especially in busy areas) and return them to its delivery hubs so delivery drivers can bring them to you.
Japan is paving the way for autonomous delivery robots to become part of everyday life as the social distancing drive for the coronavirus pandemic makes the push all the more vital. The coronavirus crisis has increased the appeal of services that allow for reduced human contact and Japanese firms are counting on the potential of robots that can deliver a range of products from nearby warehouses or shops to consumers. In August, an autonomous delivery robot by ZMP Inc. dubbed DeliRo will deliver soba dishes to customers for a trial run in Tokyo. Customers can place orders via tablet computers during the trial from Aug. 12 to 16 near JR Takanawa Gateway Station, make a cashless payment and have their food delivered by robot within a designated area. "We want to explore what kinds of autonomous delivery services are possible and what the DeliRo can offer at a time when new lifestyles are called for amid the coronavirus outbreak," a ZMP official said.
Autonomous technology continues to make an impact on the supply chain. The autonomous supply chain, as I am writing about it here, applies to moving goods without human intervention (to some degree at least). One of the more interesting examples I have seen is from the Belgian brewery De Halve Maan, which in an effort to reduce congestion on the city streets, built a beer pipeline under the streets. The pipeline is capable of carrying 1,500 gallons of beer an hour at 12 mph to a bottling facility two miles away. As we've written about here quite often, autonomous technology is mainly seen in warehouses, on highways, and in last mile deliveries.
The race to commercialize autonomous last-mile delivery is heating up. First grocery giant Kroger's announced it will test driverless delivery using vehicles from Nuro, a self-driving startup founded by two ex-Google engineers. Then, just a couple weeks ago, unsung outlier AutoX, which is run by a man actually called Professor X, leapfrogged the pack by announcing it will soon start real-world L4 autonomous delivery in San Jose. Now Udelv, which boasts the first-ever successful autonomous delivery on public roads, a milestone it passed in January that was covered mostly in the trades, has inked a deal to supply Oklahoma's largest chain of local grocery stores. The deal initially includes 10 customized autonomous delivery vans (ADVs) to fulfill online orders from Oklahoma City metro area stores like Uptown Grocery, Buy For Less, and Smart Saver.