This Delivery Robot Is Helping Small Businesses Wage War On E-Commerce Giants

This Delivery Robot Is Helping Small Businesses Wage War On E-Commerce Giants
Automotive

Swiss startup Teletretail AG is developing an on-road, two-wheeled automated delivery robot for both cities and suburbs

Ido Lechner, Home Editor
  • 6 june 2017

Though companies like Amazon have been experimenting with drone delivery systems in an effort to streamline shipping, the vision for an automated infrastructure of distribution units still seems to be at least a decade away. That being said, if technologies like driverless cars are promised in an equal or shorter time span, there’s no reason to manually shuttle packages when we ourselves will no longer participate actively on the road. In a more ‘down to earth’ approach then, Swiss startup Teleretail has announced the development of an on-road, two-wheeled unit designed as a delivery mechanism catering to both urban and rural markets.


Capable of traveling up to 50 miles at a time, the machine employs much of the same technology as self-driving cars: sensors, computer vision systems, GPS navigation, and so on. With many components originating from sponsors like Bosch, Nvidia and lidar-makers SICK, the company is on a mission to empower small businesses to be able to compete with e-commerce industry heavyweights who are capable of financing this sort of thing on their own.

“We think of ourselves as a consumer app that applies robotics to local logistics. We could envision a subscription-based model where a consumer can subscribe to the delivery service, or a store could subscribe to it in order to make deliveries that its employees cannot make in person” says CEO Thorsten Scholl.

While the company is sitting on several grants (including a $2million USD fund through European Space Agency) as a means of financing research and development, its yet to raise any seed or venture capital. This is perhaps a strategic effort on the startup’s behalf, as it’s able to align with the space agency’s interests of utilizing satellite data to help ground-based systems navigate around to pick up or deliver items from retailers and residents without having to give away a percentage of the company to would-be stakeholders.

Another area of interest for Teleretail is in elder care, where senior citizens will be able to ‘send their own kind of Mars rover’ out to pick up groceries or drop off dry cleaning. In a world where everything comes to us, ironically the people that need it most are those least versed in getting technology to do so; Scholl hopes that down the line the company will be able to develop a robot that can go indoors and drop off a package in front of one’s doorstep, instead of just outside their building or in the general vicinity. Eventually, Teleretail will traverse sidewalks, streets and even highways.

Having recently demonstrated a prototype at the AUVSI Xponential conference in Dallas, Texas, the company intends to link up with early pilot customers and partners in Swiss and US municipalities to test and validate its commercial venture. Thus far, Teleretail has secured a lineup in Washington D.C., Sunnyvale, Idaho and a couple of Swiss mountain villages. If all goes well, we might start to see an emergence of these miniature vehicles on the road in a nearer future than most would expect.

Teleretail

Though companies like Amazon have been experimenting with drone delivery systems in an effort to streamline shipping, the vision for an automated infrastructure of distribution units still seems to be at least a decade away. That being said, if technologies like driverless cars are promised in an equal or shorter time span, there’s no reason to manually shuttle packages when we ourselves will no longer participate actively on the road. In a more ‘down to earth’ approach then, Swiss startup Teleretail has announced the development of an on-road, two-wheeled unit designed as a delivery mechanism catering to both urban and rural markets.

+Automobile
+Brand Development
+Brand Development
+Delivery
+GPS
+retail
+self-driving car
+sensor
+switzerland
+technology
+travel

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