European consortium trials autonomous last-mile delivery

December 10, 2019 //By Julien Happich
last-mile delivery
Engineers attending this year’s 5G Days at Nokia’s Paris-Saclay campus were likely to stumble into an unusual gofer rambling the streets of the 4,000 employees’ facility: a small ADR (autonomous delivery robot) with parcel lockers, delivering goods without human intervention or guidance.

The robot was part of a one-shot demonstration for Nokia customers and partners, but it could soon become the default option for the delivery of small parcels across the campus.

“Campus facility manager Sodexo, together with Nokia have decided not to deliver parcel below 5 kilos to the personnel on the campus anymore. This means that any person working in this huge campus has to go to the central warehouse to get the parcel they ordered, which is not very convenient. ADRs could give great help in improving the service,” explains EIT Digital’s Jean-Philippe Bellaiche.

Bellaiche is the venture creation lead of Last Mile Autonomous Delivery (LMAD), an EIT Digital-supported startup-seeding innovation activity which is creating a software platform to pilot multiple types of robots for various kind of deliveries.

“We will operate an extensive pilot on the campus during the first quarter of next year. Our goal is to operate the delivery of all small parcels across the campus but, to achieve this, we will have to overcome some serious roadblocks about technology, authorizations, and customer acceptance,” he adds.

The Nokia campus is just one in a number of use cases that will be implemented by the LMAD consortium of partners including Bestmile, GIM Robotics, BookIT, PICOM, Forum Virium Helsinki and Futurice over the next two years.

The first tests will be held in private, controlled, areas similar to the Paris-Saclay facility, in which the ADRs can move smoothly, without meeting too many constraints; later, they will be extended to more challenging environments, such as city centres.

Possible use case scenarios include postal delivery using smart lockers, delivery of groceries ordered online by means of small-sized autonomous vehicles, small robots going from supply truck to customers’ doors.

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