Hermes to test delivery robots in Southwark

Delivery company Hermes is launching a testing programme for self-driving delivery robots in London, starting with parcel collections in Southwark.

Hermes to test delivery robots in Southwark

The trial is in partnership with Starship Technologies and follows a similar project by Hermes Germany in Ottensen, Volksdorf, and Grindel suburbs of Hamburg. The test in Germany took place last August. 

Hermes will use the testing period in the UK to better understand how the robots could enhance the company's offering. 

"We can already see first-hand the success [Starship Technologies] have had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace," Carole Woodhead, chief executive of Hermes, said.  

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.

The self-driving delivery robots are a viable alternative to drones which can run afoul of strict aviation laws. 

Each robot is 55cm high and 70cm long. They contain a secured compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg can be transported. Consumers open the robot via a link generated by a smartphone app. 

The robots have six wheels and can travel at speeds of up to four miles per hour. Each of them can be used within a two-mile radius of a control centre, where the vehicles are loaded and charged.

The goal is for the robots to be 99% autonomous in the future, and can always be connected to a human operator via the internet and GPS. In future, one operator can monitor several robots at the same time and can also take control of the robots if required.

Here's a video of the trial in Germany:

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