Swiss Post tests food delivery robot at EFPL campus

Swiss Post has been involved in testing an autonomous food delivery vehicle at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EFPL) campus.

Much of the research is to take place in controlled conditions but from last week, the engineers at the polytechnic have been running a food delivery service to students and staff on campus.

The ADORE project (Autonomously Delivered Orders from Restaurants at EFPL) is to test the different elements of the autonomous delivery vehicle – robotics, computer science, mechanical engineering, telecommunications and interactions with road users. It is being coordinated by the EPFL Sustainability office and the Catering, Shops and Hotels unit.

There will be three phases of the ADORE project. The first two weeks will be for familiarisation of the campus for both the robot and its operators. The next two weeks will involve delivering meals to a test group of users. Should phases 1 and 2 go well, Phase 3 will run where the vehicle will be made available for anyone on campus to order food and other products from.

“Our campus is a genuine living lab, and we wanted to use that opportunity to test out a novel transportation and delivery system while promoting healthier, locally sourced food, in association with our project partner,” says Luca Fontana, who is managing the EPFL Sustainability office’s role in the initiative. Other research teams may join the venture (from EPFL or another research institution) to test out related technology such as for optimising the van’s trajectory, enhancing the security of data transfer, analysing images or promoting the acceptance of autonomous systems.