Hermes tests self-driving robots for London parcel collections

Hermes is to begin a trial of self-driving delivery robots in London.

The project is an extension to an operation launched last August in Hamburg, Germany, where three robots are deployed to handle parcel deliveries in the suburbs of Ottensen, Volksdorf and Grindel.

Working with robot creator Starship Technologies, Hermes will offer residents and small businesses in the London Borough of Southwark 30-minute parcel collection time slots for items being returned to retailers, or those being sent through myHermes.

The parcel firm said it wants to use the UK trials to understand how the robots could fit into its range of on-demand collection and delivery options.

Hermes said the self-driving delivery robots offer an alternative to drones, especially in highly developed cities, towns and suburbs where strict aviation laws are in operation.

Each vehicle is 55cm by 70cm and incorporates a secured compartment where parcels with a maximum weight of 10kg can be transported, accessible to consumers through a link generated by a smartphone app.

They have six wheels, can travel up to 4mph and used within a two-mile radius from a control centre, where the vehicles are loaded and charged.

The aim is for the robots to be 99% autonomous in the future, connected to a human operator via the internet and GPS who would monitor several units at the same time.

Hermes CEO Carole Woodhead said: “Starship Technologies is a highly innovative and pioneering firm. We can already see first-hand the success they’ve had with food deliveries in London, and we are excited to team up with them in a bid to revolutionise the home delivery marketplace.”