Hermes trials self-driving robots in London

Parcel delivery company Hermes has launched a trial in London to test out its self-driving robots in partnership with Starship Technologies.

The self-driving delivery robots aim to offer a viable alternative to drones, especially in highly developed cities such as London, said the delivery firm, and the testing will see the robots delivering items in the London borough of Southwark.

Initially, the trial will allow the delivery firm to offer limited thirty-minute time slots for the collection of parcels, either for items being returned to retailers, or for items being sent by small businesses sending items using MyHermes. Moving forward it said the service could offer greater scheduling and tracking capabilities.

Hermes trials self-driving robots in London

Each robot is 55 centimeter high by 70 centimeter long and is capable of moving up to 10 kilograms of parcels. The six-wheeled boxes move at up to 4 miles-per-hour and can be used within a two-mile radius of their control centre. Customers will be able to open it using a link generated by a smartphone app.

Hermes chief executive, Carole Woodhead, said: “Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm. We are extremely pleased to utilise their expertise to explore exciting new ways that will further strengthen our portfolio of services and offer greater choice and convenience for customers.

“We can already see first-hand the success they’ve had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace.”

Hermes trials self-driving robots in London

The goal is for the robots to be 99 percent autonomous in future but can be connected to a human operator via the internet or GPS. It is also planned that in the future one operator can control several robots and take over control if need be.

London is the latest city to trial the self-driving robots the project has already seen test deliveries in the Ottensen, Volksdorf and Grindel suburbs of Hamburg, Germany.

Images: courtesy of Starship Technologies