As much as technology, infrastructure can limit delivery robots


Four pilot projects in cities across the country demonstrated some of the daily challenges faced when deploying small, autonomous delivery robots. The infrastructure a device needs to navigate can be a major constraint. Autonomous sidewalk delivery robots may not be ready yet, despite the promise of futuristic demonstrations and pandemics, but it might surprise you why. Four collaborative pilot projects using small delivery robots in cities across the country have found problems ranging from basic issues like incomplete or broken sidewalks to operational limitations of the robots themselves. understood.

“There are still many obstacles to large-scale deployment,” said Nico He Larco, professor of architecture at the University of Oregon and director of its Center for Urbanism, an urban design research institute. Even if there are,” he said. “That seems to be the case with most of these new technologies. Field operations are much more chaotic.” Urbanism Next partners with Cityfi, the Knight Foundation and the City of San Jose, California. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Miami-Dade County and Detroit formed the Knight Autonomous Vehicle (AV) initiative to deploy and test its Kiwibot delivery device in each city.

The pilot project lasted around 3 to 6 months in 2021. When the project was conceived, the organizers initially planned to use self-driving cars. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the requirement for contactless delivery, leading many transportation watchers to speculate on the potential scalability and use cases of autonomous technology in space. delivery on demand. But what the four different pilot deployments seemed to highlight are the many considerations and details that must be taken into account before this technology is accepted by both buyers and companies that outsource products to suppliers. robots.

“An interesting finding from this study was the importance of the public and private sectors working together. There’s a lot going on…more needs to be done,” Larco said. The public sector is primarily responsible for setting policies that allow devices to operate safely on public roads. But it also means determining delivery areas, ensuring sidewalks are adequate and in good repair, educating the public about the device, and hosting community events to address concerns. In San Jose and Pittsburgh, the Kiwibots hit obstacles and fell.

In Detroit, the robot struggled to navigate wide intersections because traffic lights changed too quickly. Limited use in Pittsburgh with heavy rain and snow. These are some of the random but very specific hurdles that need to be addressed before the device becomes more widely used, the researchers say.

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  • As much as technology, infrastructure can limit delivery robots
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