Robot delivery in the consumer goods sector
2019 may be the year for Franprix. After its collaboration with Glovo to offer even faster delivery, Franprix remains the leader of distribution giants in the Last Mile segment. The brand aims to provide the fastest service. Moreover, it doesn’t hesitate to make use of the latest innovations. Franprix is thus gradually positioning itself as the trailblazing brand.
A delivery robot to facilitate accessibility
The first people to have the privilege of using this delivery robot will be mainly the blind, the elderly and anyone with a disability who needs help transporting their purchases. Testing will take place at the Paris-Rive Gauche Franprix at a date that’s still uncertain, but will be in 2019.
In terms of mobility, the robot is equipped with two wheels and a 40 liter trunk. No need for moving arms or a thinking head – this robot’s only job is to do your shopping for you! It’s simply your new shopping cart. And it follows you around without having to be pulled, pushed or even steered.
Despite its novelty, the TwinswHeel robot is not a remote-controlled car. Using facial recognition software that registers your face in its system, it recognizes you in a crowd to follow you throughout your shopping.
A geolocation system is also integrated. It will help to avoid obstacles as it travels, as well as maintain a safe minimum distance to avoid collisions.
Guaranteed delivery in 30-40 minutes
This is Franprix’s goal. To accomplish this goal, testing will be launched in Southeast Paris using an operator. If the testing proves to be successful, the robots will be left to operate alone on the streets in this same area. The robot is currently not authorized to travel alone. With a speed between 5 and 10 km per hour, it has a 30 km range. Scooters, considered moving vehicles, are allowed to travel along public roads at speeds up to 6 km per hour. So, the same should hold true for delivery robots.
Another limitation: this robot is unable to navigate stairs. If its purpose is to move people toward autonomy, it should be able to go down an apartment building’s stairs in order to pick up purchases. Its wheels seem to have been made for sidewalks but not for stair-climbing. This would be a major improvement for purchase-transporting robots.
The next evolution for this delivery robot would be to become completely autonomous. And furthermore, to have the ability to complete the “last mile” between the supermarket and the consumer’s home.
Soben, the company to watch
At the origin of this innovation is the French company, Soben. Benjamin Talon, company founder, partnered with Lyon-based Andarta R Robotic to develop a collaborative robotics project.
Soben has approximately fifteen employees, 80% of whom are researchers having engineering degrees for the most part. Another factor which may explain their position in the robotics sector: the average age of their employees. Being in their thirties, they’re mainly from Generation Y, a generation that grew up with the internet and “smart” technologies.
However, robotics is not the company’s primary objective. This may be surprising, but Soben is actually focused on the niche market of flying cars. With the technological advances and the progress this company is making every day, Benjamin Talon is confident that flying cars will be put into circulation by 2023.
There’s a sort of current craze for robots, which is all the more true when their main use is for delivery. It seems that the “last mile” objective is still relevant, and even more so now that it’s about to become a reality. This exciting domain is spurring innovation on the part of many companies. In addition to the challenge that this entails for Soben, the company developing this robot, the focus is on achieving the larger objective of a “smart city” and personal service for all.