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How do delivery robots work?

Since the very first industrial robot in 1961 working on an automotive assembly line in New Jersey, robots have come a long way and today are used in a wide variety of industries and increasing in popularity. One new area where robots are being employed with increasing frequency is in the delivery of goods. Delivery robots are autonomous machines designed to transport goods from one location to another without the need for any human intervention. These robots are being used by various industries to streamline delivery processes and reduce costs. But how do delivery robots work? And are delivery robots safe?

In this article, we will explore their workings and how they are revolutionizing the delivery industry.


Delivery robots operate primarily on sidewalks. One might wonder are delivery robots autonomous. They have a degree of autonomy and occasionally employ a “human-in-the-loop” for additional support. They come in various shapes and sizes, but they all share a few common features. They are equipped with sensors, cameras, and other technologies that enable them to navigate their surroundings and avoid obstacles whether indoor or outdoor. Additionally, they have storage compartments where goods like food, medication, lab samples, and even waste could be securely placed for transportation. They can work around the clock with limited downtime and do not need bathroom breaks! Let’s understand the operation in steps.


The first step in the delivery process is for the robot to receive an order. This can be done in several ways, including through a mobile app or a web interface. Once the order has been received, the robot sets out on its journey from source to destination. The robot, if autonomous, uses its sensors and cameras to navigate its surroundings and avoid obstacles such as pedestrians, cars, and other objects. This navigation technology is based on algorithms that allow the robot to identify its position and plan its route. An example of this is robots delivering food.


As the robot travels, it communicates with a central server to receive updates on its destination and any changes to its route. Only some select delivery robot companies do this. It also syncs its data to the cloud including telemetry, sensor information, and feedback on items like robot health and status. This data, when analysed, help it make better decisions in its journey and allow the robot company to continuously improve on the robot operation. This communication is done using wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi or cellular data. The server also sends updates to the customer, letting them know the status of their delivery and the estimated time of arrival.



When the robot arrives at its destination, say in case of robots delivering food, it uses its sensors to locate the delivery address. Once it has identified the correct location, it uses its storage compartment to deliver the goods. The customer is then notified that their delivery has arrived, and they can retrieve their goods from the robot.


One of the most significant advantages of these last mile robots for delivery is their ability to operate around the clock. Unlike human delivery drivers who have limited working hours and high operational costs, delivery robot companies can operate 24/7, at minimal costs providing a more efficient delivery service. This makes them particularly useful for businesses that need to deliver goods quickly and efficiently throughout the day, like hospitals or restaurants.


Another advantage is their cost-effectiveness. While the initial cost of purchasing one but it may be higher than hiring a human delivery driver, in the long run and can be more cost-effective. These robots don't require health or other benefits, salaries, breaks, and they don't require any time off. Additionally, they use battery power to operate, thus moving the need for fossil fuels, and improving on a company’s carbon footprint.


They can also be more reliable than human operators. Robots don't get tired, hungry, or bored, and they don't have the risk of getting lost or varying from their operation. Robots perform only as their programmed to perform, consistently, and efficiently. Additionally, they can be programmed to follow specific routes and avoid areas with high traffic, making them more efficient than human drivers.

While they are becoming increasingly popular, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed. One of the biggest challenges is the issue of safety.


These robots share public spaces with pedestrians and other vehicles, and there is always the risk of accidents. To address this challenge, many of these robots are equipped with sensors that enable them to detect obstacles and avoid collisions. They maintain a safe distance of a few meters. They come in bright colours and can make sounds to help inform the visually impaired and disabled people. In addition, it’s the responsibility of the robotic manufacturers to work closely with local and federal governments to ensure safe and effective adoption and integration, of their robots within communities.


Some robots have the potential issue of theft. They can often carry valuable goods, making them an attractive target for thieves. To address this challenge, many are equipped with security features such as lockable storage areas, GPS tracking, alarms, and remote disabling. Some robots can be larger as well, thus making it more difficult for tamper or theft.


With the rise of e-commerce and online ordering, all robots have the potential to be helpful in bringing down the cost of last-mile delivery. Hence it makes business sense for companies to adopt them as part of their fleet. With the ability to not only save operational dollars, but also increase potential revenue sources, robotic adoption presents an exciting opportunity for a variety of companies.


Overall, the technology behind these robots is still rapidly evolving, and we can expect to see even more advanced and sophisticated robots in the coming years. Regulators across most industries don’t yet have a clear policy around the use of these robots but are working closely with industry to create these policies to ensure effective adoption.


In conclusion, delivery robots are revolutionizing the delivery industry, providing a more efficient and cost-effective delivery service than traditional methods. They are autonomous machines equipped with sensors and other technologies that enable them to navigate their surroundings and avoid obstacles. While there are still some challenges that need to be addressed, in their current capacity they have the potential to transform the delivery industry, providing businesses with new ways to reach clients, capture additional revenue, and save money as well.

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