Mercedes Benz to use robots for goods distribution

Mercedes Benz to use robots for goods distribution

Berlin,Jan 17: While Amazon is looking at drones as a solution to honouring customers’ orders, Mercedes is taking a much more grounded approach to making parcel deliveries autonomous and efficient.

Mercedes-Benz Vans is investing in a company called Starship Technologies, one of the world’s leading start-ups in the field of autonomous delivery robots in a bid to make delivering goods to homes as simple as ordering them online.

 According to separate studies from Forrester Research, comScore and United Parcel Service, US consumers now make more purchases online than they do in store. Some 190 million Americans made an online purchase over the course of 2016 and since June, digital commerce accounted for 51% of purchases. And those numbers and percentages are only going to grow in the coming years as the average home becomes smarter and more connected.

And as the amount of shopping done online grows, so does the need to deliver those goods quickly and efficiently. So Mercedes has hit upon the idea of transforming its vans into “motherships” that will transport and charge autonomous robots as well as goods.

Each robot will be able to load deliveries into the van at the warehouse and then unload them again at the correct addresses. And of course the van itself will eventually be able to drive itself to each destination.

“The concept makes it much easier to deliver goods to the end customer on time,” Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “The introduction of the van as a mobile hub widens the operational radius of the robots significantly.”

The company has already developed a prototype mothership van and consumers in several major European cities will soon start seeing robots bearing gifts trundling down their driveways. Mercedes will be launching a pilot test scheme before the end of 2017.

“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. At the same time, we make the delivery process much more convenient for the end customer,” said Volker.