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DPD trials autonomous delivery robots in Milton Keynes

Parcel delivery firm DPD is set to launch autonomous  delivery robots in Milton Keynes, as part of a trial with AI-powered robotics and last mile delivery company Cartken.

The DPD branded robots, which will operate out of the firm’s Knowlhill depot, will navigate the city’s traffic-free Redway network to access the residential neighbourhoods of Shenley Church End and Shenley Lodge.

Powered by AI technology, the robots are currently ‘learning’ the routes and will then be able to find their way to delivery addresses, fully autonomously. Cartken’s level 4 autonomy and navigation tech is regarded as one of the safest last mile delivery solutions on the market and is currently being used by automotive tech giant Mitsubishi in Japan, and leading food delivery company GrubHub in the US.

DPD parcel recipients will be notified of a robot delivery in advance, and once they confirm that they are at home to accept the parcel, the robot will be dispatched. Customers will be able to track the robot’s progress on a map and will be notified when it reaches their property. They will then use a code to open the secure compartment and access their parcel. Once the compartment is closed, the robot will return to the depot for its next delivery.

If the trial is successful, DPD intends to extend the sustainable, autonomous final mile solution across the city, which could enable it to start removing traditional delivery vans from the road network.

Elaine Kerr, DPD UK CEO, said: “This is a really important trial for us. We want to understand the role that delivery robots could play in certain locations in the UK. They are a sustainable solution, and we genuinely want to find out if they could help us take vans off the road in future.  The technology is proven and with the DPD branding, they look fantastic.

“The public’s response to our EV fleet has been amazing, so I am confident these smart robots will be embraced by customers as part of the way forward.

“Realistically, we aren’t going to be completely replacing our delivery drivers anytime soon.  And we wouldn’t want to.  The service they provide is fantastic.  But at DPD we’ve always led the way on innovation and investment in our network and this is the next logical step in terms of evolving delivery solutions and working towards our aim of being the UK’s most sustainable delivery company.” 

The trial is part of series of green initiatives from DPD. The firm has already announced plans to have over 3,000 electric vehicles on the road in the UK this year and 5,000 by 2023, when it will be delivering to 30 towns and cities on all-electric vehicles.

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