Bike robots, a good or bad idea?

According to a McKinsey study, in 2025, more than 50 million packages will be delivered daily by autonomous vehicles. At a time when scooters are crowding the sidewalks and delivery trucks are all over the roads, bike paths have not yet been explored by delivery companies. Today, it’s a done deal since the future of the delivery robot lies in bicycles.


Their main advantage is speed

These three-wheeled robots can deliver much faster than regular robots who travel on sidewalks. Moreover, the last ones waste an enormous amount of time avoiding obstacles along the way. The problem is solved with bike robots. Since, traveling on bike trails, they’ll be among the two-wheelers also traveling there.

However, their top speed cannot exceed 25 km/h. The manufacturers a priori indicated that this was the recommended distance to ensure a very short stopping distance. Its creators are Matthew Johnson-Robertson and Ram Vasudevan, two university professors from Michigan. Besides, they are also cycle enthusiasts. They stated that they’d calculated  a stopping distance of 1.5 meters, caused

“compared to the typical stopping distance of 14 meters that a conventional vehicle at the same speed needs in order to avoid an accident.”


But will cyclists be willing to share their space with these newfangled autonomous delivery robots?

Remember that the initiative was born in the United States, and bike paths aren’t the same there. Indeed, in France especially, these paths are not common in the capital city, but the goal is to increase to them to 1,400 km by 2020.

What’s more, bike lanes can be more dangerous than car lanes: bus lanes, contraflow lanes or simple ground markings are all dangerous examples that could prevent the arrival of this type of robot in Europe.


Efficient and inexpensive

The prototype has a price tag of 5,000€, a price that beats the competition, including the price of autonomous delivery trucks. The REV-1 is an autonomous robot. It’s designed to be of a human scale so it doesn’t disturb the urban landscape and monopolize bike paths to the detriment of cyclists.

This robot is committed to improving last mile delivery. Its designers are already thinking about options to integrate into the prototype to counter potential obstacles such as  

“weather conditions that inhibit or slow down other autonomous car solutions”.


What are some future innovations we might see in the delivery sector?

After robot mail carriers and autonomous trucks, the delivery sector very quickly turned to drones. These flying machines have made a lasting impression and offer numerous advantages related to delivery facilitation such as convenience, speed and air travel, a concept that’s never before been used to relieve congestion on roadways.

Another innovative idea: delivery dogs. Not real dogs, but robot dogs designed to deliver to customers on their doorsteps, which is impossible for autonomous robots who are unable to climb stairs or take the elevator.

So…will the future of delivery robots be in animal form? What are your thoughts on that?


To read: Innovations that will boost e-commerce delivery