ZMP's DeliRo food delivery robots Photo: YouTube/ZMP
business

Pandemic gets Japan's automated delivery services on the road

20 Comments

Japan is paving the way for autonomous delivery robots to become part of everyday life, with social distancing efforts required during the coronavirus pandemic making the push all the more vital.

The coronavirus crisis has increased the appeal of services that allow for reduced human contact and Japanese firms are counting on the potential of robots that can, in the not so distant future, deliver a range of products from nearby warehouses or shops to consumers.

In August, an autonomous delivery robot developed by ZMP Inc, dubbed the DeliRo, will deliver Japanese soba noodle dishes to customers in a trial in Tokyo.

Customers can place orders via tablet device during the event from Aug 12 to 16 near JR Takanawa Gateway Station, make a cashless payment and have their food delivered by the robot within a designated area.

"We want to explore what kinds of autonomous delivery services are possible and what the DeliRo can offer at a time when new lifestyles are called for amid the coronavirus outbreak," a ZMP official said.

The DeliRo, measuring about 1 meter in height with a load capacity of 50 kilograms, is capable of detecting and avoiding obstacles blocking its way using advanced autonomous driving tech. It travels at a maximum speed of 6 kilometers per hour.

The Japanese government is stepping up its push for autonomous delivery services in the hope they will alleviate the acute shortage of labor in the rapidly aging country.

One outstanding issue, however, is to decide how to treat low-speed, self-driving vehicles that travel below 6 km per hour because the existing legal framework in Japan does not cover them, an impediment to conducting test runs on public roads.

An expert panel under the National Police Agency has begun discussions on how traffic rules should apply to the delivery robots and the government aims to allow trials on public roads this year, as long as they can be monitored remotely.

E-commerce giant Rakuten has said it plans to carry out a demonstration of a delivery service using an autonomous vehicle on a public road by the end of 2020.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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This thing is way too cute (as one expected) but it also looks incredibly unsure and scared, making it vulnerable to bullying and vandalism

7 ( +8 / -1 )

They need to be even more kawaii.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just when we got rid of the go karts, this.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

What could possibly go wrong?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

6 km per hour? That‘s the same speed as I walk.....

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Can these robots cope with lack of sidewalks and bumps in the road and sudden inclines?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'd like to see how well they would survive going through Shibuya Crossing on Halloween night.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Teletubby portable homes

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Another traffic hazard. I wonder who gets prosecuted when they cause accidents?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There will be a bit of trial and error but this will be great for the environment if they can take more delivery vehicles off the roads.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I hope it has a retractable finger-shaped finger for pressing elevator buttons.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just what the world requires - so-called automated delivery vehicles. Someone asserts it will be great for the environment - based on absolutely no evidence or thought. An individual on a bicycle is more efficient. How this is possibly linked to changing demographics and a labor shortage is at best questionable - less people means less need. It appears to be a costly, weird techno-fantasy come to life. What is wrong with the world - that is rhetorical.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just what we need automating yourself out of a job. Let the robots do all the work. Humans server what purpose in the name of AI and SKYNET?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Someone asserts it will be great for the environment - based on absolutely no evidence or thought.

taking 1000s of diesel trucks off the rd and replacing them with electric drones, less traffic congestion less trucks blocking rds, means less vehicles idling, less CO2 all round. The science is already there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Within the office building that is way less than 6 kph.

@kohakuebisu, from watching the video above, it seems to be able to control the elevator buttons with super powers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese government is stepping up its push for autonomous delivery services in the hope they will alleviate the acute shortage of labor in the rapidly aging country.

Amazing, even with the pandemic and companies going bankrupt there is still acute labor shortage ?

I guess the writer of this article used last years template and never bothered to proofread.

Wondering whether ZMP received subsidy from the government.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yet another industry Elon Musk will quickly disrupt.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Forget fancy stuff like this and just get international airmail back happening - honestly, other major economies are managing it, even the US with all their experience of Covid-19... I usually have top admiration for Japan Post, but after months now with no service, their leaders clearly have no imagination in addressing the issue which must be costing Japanese business billions.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Forget fancy stuff like this and just get international airmail back happening - honestly, other major economies are managing it, even the US with all their experience of Covid-19... I usually have top admiration for Japan Post, but after months now with no service, their leaders clearly have no imagination in addressing the issue which must be costing Japanese business billions."

Japan Post loads EMS packages in containers on commercial passenger flights. The passenger flights to many destinations such as the US are greatly curtailed or gone altogether, making normal EMS service impossible. Only companies like DHL with their own dedicated fleet of cargo aircraft have been able to maintain service. Japan Post has restored service to many destinations around the world including China just two weeks ago. The US will have to wait until it gets its act together. That is not Japan Post's problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Amazing, even with the pandemic and companies going bankrupt there is still acute labor shortage ?

I guess the writer of this article used last years template and never bothered to proofread.

Wondering whether ZMP received subsidy from the government."

This pandemic is a short term problem. Japan's demographic problems are going to last many decades. Other developed nations face similar demographic trends and could benefit from this technology.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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