Starship and Mercedes working on ‘Robovan’

Mercedes Benz Vans and Starship Technologies have announced that they are working together on a ‘Robovan’ project, where robot delivery vehicles will work from mothership vans.

In a statement sent, Starship Technologies explained how the concept would work: “The semi-autonomous transportation system will see Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans act as ’motherships’, hosting eight delivery robots. The vans will drive through neighbourhoods, stopping in designated locations, based on delivery density and demand, to drop off and pick up robots to complete customer deliveries.”

Using this system, the companies reckon that up to 400 packages could be delivered every nine hour shift, as against the current 180 packages per shift expected of delivery drivers today.

Ahti Heinla, CEO of Starship Technologies, commented: “Starship Technologies has solved the last mile problem by introducing sidewalk delivery robots. However, vans are best suited to bring goods to the local area from businesses and distribution centers. When the two transportation methods converge into one, the outcome is the most efficient, cost effective and convenient local delivery method in the world.’’

Allan Martinson, Starship’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “A typical van delivery today involves driving to a delivery area, and then spending an entire day on door-to-door deliveries. By leaving the door-to-door part to delivery robots the van drivers’ productivity will significantly rise while reducing congestion on the streets and CO2 emissions.”

The Mercedes-Benz Vans partnership follows Starship Technologies’ launch of commercial delivery tests in the UK, Germany and Switzerland last month with partners Just Eat, Hermes, Metro Group, and Swiss Post, offering robotic delivery for the food, grocery and parcel industries.