Hermes is launching a new trial of self-driving delivery robots in London.
In partnership with Starship Technologies, the consumer delivery firm will soon test a number of parcel collections in the London borough of Southwark.
The trial follows on from a project which has seen Hermes Germany and Starship Technologies test parcel delivery by deploying three robots on the streets of Hamburg.
Initially, the trial will allow the delivery firm to offer limited 30-minute time slots for the collection of parcels, either for items being returned to retailers, or for items being sent by small businesses or consumers via myHermes. Moving forward, the robots could offer Hermes greater scheduling and tracking capabilities.
Hermes believes that self-driving delivery robots offer a viable alternative to drones, especially in highly developed cities, towns and suburbs where there are strict aviation laws. Each vehicle is 55cm high by 70cm long, and has a secure compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg can be transported, accessible to consumers via a link generated by a smartphone app. They have six wheels and can travel at up to four miles per hour.
They can be used within a two-mile radius from a control centre, where the vehicles are loaded and charged. The aim is for the robots to be 99% autonomous in the future, and to always be connected to a human operator via the internet and GPS. In the future, one operator could monitor several robots at the same time and could also take control of the robots if required.
“Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm,” Hermes CEO Carole Woodhead said. “We can already see first-hand the success they’ve had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace.”