A Driverless Delivery Service Will Launch In Japan Next Year
The RoboNeko Yamato service will use self-driving cars to bring purchases to customers' homes starting in 2017
Japanese door-to-door postal service Yamato Transport has partnered with IT company DeNA to launch a delivery service that relies solely on driverless cars.
Dubbed RoboNeko Yamato (“robot cat”), the service will begin in March 2017 with a one-year trial period. Customers will be able to choose from two different types of delivery services; the first is “on-demand delivery service” for transporting things like luggage and bigger appliances, as well as a “shopping agency service” designed for online e-commerce orders.
Customers will be able to place orders themselves using an accompanying app, and will also be able to track the shipment as its driven by the autonomous vehicle to their home or designated location. Unlike the typical Fedex or UPS delivery, customers will be able to open the car doors themselves and lift their package from a storage box located in the back of the vehicle.
In the initial one-year trial period, a driver will stay in some of the cars to make sure that nothing goes wrong. However, the service will ultimately be controlled by the cars themselves once the testing phase has ended and all errors have been smoothed over.
Autonomous cars have burst into the scene in a big way the past several years, from a self-driving taxi service in Singapore to Lyft’s partnership with GM to put self-driving carshare on the map. However, RoboNeko Yamato marks the first time that self-driving delivery vans have been produced. We live in an on-demand world where we expect that we can purchase anything we want, whenever we want, and that it will be delivered swiftly. UPS is now allowing customers to track their shipments on a live map in real-time, and drones have also managed to break into the delivery space with home shipments through the sky; RoboNeko Yamato follows in the same vein, by not only making a delivery service that is more efficient but also by putting more control into the hands of the consumer.