The Last Mile
On Friday, Cleveron — the tech firm behind Walmart’s online pickup towers — unveiled a self-driving robotic courier named Lotte at an Estonian robotics conference.
Based on a video of Lotte in action, the delivery vehicle can not only drive itself to a secure locker, but even place a package inside with a fold-out robotic arm — eliminating the need for any human intervention.
Cleveron plans to begin testing Lotte on Estonian streets in 2020. Once the system is in action, CEO Arno Kutt thinks it’ll prove to be a win-win for both retailers and customers.
“[T]he robot courier will replace human labor, which makes the last mile delivery cheaper,” he told Business Insider. “This in turn helps e-commerce grow even more — it will be less expensive (we eliminate labor costs) and extremely convenient (the parcels are waiting for you safely in your own parcel locker).”
This is far from the first autonomous delivery vehicle we’ve seen, but it is one of the first to completely remove humans from the process — typically, the customer would need to actually retrieve their order from the vehicle.
Of course, it’ll be a while before every customer of Walmart and the like has access to a secure parcel locker, but this video is an intriguing vision of the future of retail — and one that might have a decent chance of actually coming true.