Mercedes-Benz does the robot dance
Regular readers of FOCUS may remember Charleen Clarke’s report on the future of the van, dubbed adVANce, as seen through the eyes of Mercedes-Benz. One of the concepts discussed was the so-called “mothership”, developed in conjunction with Starship Technologies – the world’s leading start-up company for the development of ground-based, autonomous delivery robots.
As lead investor, Mercedes-Benz Vans has participated in the €16,5 million (R283,3 million) financing round. What this means is that Mercedes-Benz Vans is now reinforcing this strategic, long-term collaboration that began in 2016.
“The robot can only travel short distances under its own power and, until now, has had to return to the warehouse to be reloaded after each delivery. The introduction of the van as a mobile hub widens the operational radius of the robots significantly, while also rendering superfluous the cost-intensive construction and operation of decentralised warehouses.
“We see the combination of these two technologies as an opportunity to give our van customers access to some completely new services and business models,” says Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
“At the same time, we make the delivery process much more convenient for the end customer. For example, the concept makes it much easier to deliver goods to the end customer on time.”
The aim is to develop the concept systematically over the coming months. As the two companies recently announced at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, initial pilot tests for this combination of van and robot are planned for Europe.
Following pilot testing of the delivery robots, which has been, and continues to be, undertaken by Starship Technologies with other partners, the plan is to begin widespread testing of the joint concept with one or more logistics partners.
The launch of the pilot project in a real-world environment is scheduled to take place later this year.