Yellow robots equipped with cameras, GPS, and a radar are being called the future of logistics in China.
The robots, about the size of a small washing machine, have been making deliveries in parts of Beijing — from snacks to clothes to electronics.
Weighing 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and traveling on six wheels at a theoretical top speed of 12 kilometers (7.46 miles) per hour, each robot is currently able to deliver goods only at the ground floor level.
This means residents living on higher floors must come down to pick up their orders, as in the case of the city’s “Kafka” compound.
Still, customers enjoy the cashless, online shopping experience and find the autonomous technology promising.
To purchase, customers select their desired products and pay for them through their smartphones.
The robots also called “little yellow horses,” then deliver the orders processed by human staff in supermarkets.
“At the moment, there are 100 million packages delivered every day in China. It will be one billion in the future,” Liu Zhiyong, the founder and CEO of manufacturer Zhen Robotics, told AFP.
“There will not be enough humans to make the deliveries. We need more and more robots to fill this gap in manpower. And to reduce costs.”
Packed with four cameras, GPS, and a laser tele-detection system, the robots are able to see their surroundings, avoid obstacles and sound an alarm when anyone tries to vandalize or steal them.
But robots delivering to the “Kafka” compound have no issues so far, traveling on a wide pavement without obstacles such as cars.
Liu is convinced that costs will drop over time, addressing concerns that it might be expensive to maintain the robots.
He added that they will soon be able to deliver above ground floors.
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