Post NL pilots autonomous sorting system

A pilot deployment of a drone based autonomous sorting centre has been set up by Prime Competence and Unmanned Life for Post NL.

A first for the industry globally, the indoor postal sorting system will be operated by drones and autonomous ground vehicles.

In a statement from the three companies, they said they anticipate that the pilot will demonstrate that “autonomous drones can rapidly and accurately perform the sorting at a higher throughput and lower cost per sorted unit than the current industry standard”. For PostNL this could lead to massive cost savings.

Eddy Thans, CEO of Prime Competence, commented: “The program will involve several fields of technology, from sensors, vehicles, data transmission and software management platforms. We are pleased to have Unmanned Life as a key technology partner on this program; their autonomous drone fleet management technology represents a huge step forward in making this dream a reality.”

Prime Competence and Unmanned Life said that their solution “will be available to all postal operators and e-commerce players creating a level-playing-field for e-commerce companies”.

There is a major drive toward drones and autonomous vehicles to replace human operators throughout the delivery sector. Robots can work nonstop for longer and for a lower long term cost than the people that they replace. In the face of competition there are pressures on operational costs and as always human resources are one of those that can be cut back. Unlike robots painting cars with fixed parameters, sorting and delivery requires a lot more ‘intelligence’ than the mechanical systems used in car factories for instance. This is why billions are being invested globally in such non human systems – to crack the intelligence side. The Post NL test may well be the next major step toward a fully autonomous delivery network.