Robovan partnership between Mercedes and Starship

Robovan starship loadedStarship Technologies, a name that regular readers will be familiar with as the start-up bringing its pavement-friendly delivery bots. Well, they’ve got together with Mercedes-Benz Vans to create the ‘Robovan.

The Robovan is the world’s first transportation system that allows those delivery robots to get to where they need to be.

The semi-autonomous transportation system will see Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans act as ‘motherships’ for eight delivery robots.

The vans will drive through neighbourhoods, stopping in designated locations, based on delivery density and demand. They will then drop off and pick up robots to complete customer deliveries.

Pick-up and drop-off

Instead of completing door-to-door delivery, the vans will drive to pre-agreed locations. Once there, they’ll load and unload goods and then dispatch the robots in the final step for on-demand delivery. Upon making the customer delivery, the robots will autonomously find their way back to the van for re-loading.

Ahti Heinla, CEO of Starship Technologies announced:

Starship Technologies has solved the last mile problem by introducing sidewalk delivery robots. However, vans are best suited to bring goods to the local area from businesses and distribution centers. When the two transportation methods converge into one, the outcome is the most efficient, cost effective and convenient local delivery method in the world’’

RobovanThe robots will be loaded with their goods in the Robovan using a racking system that enables 400 packages to be delivered every 9-hour shift. This is a definite improvement when compared to the 180 packages using previously available methods. That’s an increase of over 120%.

Starship and partners

Starship Technologies and Mercedes-Benz Vans entered a cooperation earlier this summer after studying the needs and requirements of their customers. The Mercedes-Benz Vans partnership follows Starship Technologies’ launch of commercial delivery tests in the UK, Germany and Switzerland. These have involved partners such as Just Eat, Hermes, Metro Group, and Swiss Post, offering robotic delivery for the food, grocery and parcel industries.

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Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans says:

We see a huge potential for robotic delivery systems in the future and by combining our vans and the robots – we call it the mothership concept. With this we are able to increase the efficiency of delivery by an order of magnitude. Working together is like having best of both worlds – the power of a leading van manufacturer combined with the agility and spirit of a startup”.

Starship Technologies’ delivery robots have now covered over 12,000km around the world. That’s across 12 countries and 47 cities, coming into contact with over 1.2 million people.