Tokyo company to start testing delivery service robot

Tokyo-based venture ZMP Inc in August will begin field testing its self-driving delivery robot aimed at providing an alternative to aerial drones in the door-to-door courier business as Japan faces a growing labor shortage.

The box-shaped CarriRo Delivery measuring 133 centimeters in length and 109 cm in height is designed to run on sidewalks and can carry loads of up to 100 kilograms, according to the firm.

“Our delivery robot is more suitable than drones when it comes to delivering heavy products like food items,” says ZMP Chief Executive Officer Hisashi Taniguchi.

The company has teamed up with sushi delivery service operator Ride On Express Co. to test a prototype of the autonomous vehicle on private property.

The robot equipped with cameras and sensors navigates itself, running at a maximum speed of 6 kilometers per hour and selecting a route on its own using a map loaded into it. It can be remote controlled when needed, according to ZMP, which also develops self-driving car technologies.

Customers can unlock the robot’s cargo hold with a code sent to their smartphone.

While looking to improve the robot’s features including temperature control of the cargo hold, ZMP and its partners will urge the government to make necessary regulatory arrangements for the vehicle’s testing on public roads.

ZMP hopes the CarriRo Delivery will be treated similarly to electric scooters for the elderly.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd. began testing an autonomous delivery robot in Australia last year, while companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Rakuten Inc. are seeking to commercialize drones for door-to-door parcel delivery.

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