‘Robovan’ by Starship Technologies and Mercedes-Benz Vans: future-proof local delivery
Integrating self-driving robots with delivery vans to provide local delivery
Stuttgart, Germany, September 7, 2016
Starship Technologies, the start-up transforming the delivery industry with a fleet of friendly sidewalk robots, is announcing today its partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans to develop ’Robovan’, the worlds first transportation system integrating specially-adapted vans with autonomous delivery robots to allow efficient delivery of goods in neighbourhoods.
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.
“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’’, said Ahti Heinla, CEO of Starship Technologies.
Instead of completing door-to-door delivery, the vans will drive to pre-agreed locations to load and unload goods and then dispatch the robots in the final step for on-demand delivery. Upon making the customer delivery, the robots will autonomously find their way back to the van for re-loading.
The robots will be loaded with their goods in the ‘Robovan’ using a racking system that enables 400 packages to be delivered every 9 hour shift, compared to 180 packages using previously available methods, an increase of over 120%.
“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” said Allan Martinson, Starship’s Chief Operating Officer.
“At Mercedes-Benz Vans we are constantly seeking for innovations to improve the efficiency for our customers and actively supporting their businesses. In Starship we found an innovative and creative partner to dramatically improve the way of transportation for the last mile”, said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We see a huge potential for robotic delivery systems in the future and by combining our vans and the robots – we call it the mothership concept. With this we are able to increase the efficiency of delivery by an order of magnitude. Working together is like having best of both worlds – the power of a leading van manufacturer combined with the agility and spirit of a startup”.
Starship Technologies and Mercedes-Benz Vans entered a cooperation earlier this summer after studying the needs and requirements of their customers, with a view to offer customers unprecedented flexibility, convenience and control over their deliveries. 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.
Starship Technologies’ delivery robots have now covered over 12,000km around the world in 12 countries and 47 cities, coming into contact with over 1.2 million people.
About Starship Technologies
Starship Technologies is building a fleet of autonomous robots designed to deliver goods locally in 15-30 minutes within a 2-3 mile radius. The robots drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take over control at any time. Launched in July 2014, by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, Starship is changing the way parcels, groceries and food are delivered. Starship Technologies is a European company with Business headquarters in London and R&D headquarters in Estonia.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans division
Mercedes-Benz Vans is a global full-line supplier of vans and related services. Alongside the large-size Sprinter van and the mid-size Vito van (known in the U.S. as Metris), the division’s worldwide product portfolio includes the Mercedes-Benz Citan urban delivery van. Mercedes-Benz Vans is also represented in the private segment with the V-Class MPV and the Marco Polo and Marco Polo ACTIVITY travel vans. The division has a total of nine production locations: in Germany, Spain, the USA, Argentina, China (joint venture with Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd), France (strategic alliance with Renault-Nissan) and Russia (partnerships with GAZ and YaMZ). To date, the main markets have been in Western Europe, accounting for a total of 65 percent of unit sales in 2015.
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