Cleveron, the Estonian tech company that has developed products built to store and robotically distribute e-commerce orders for customer pickup, has now developed a product to autonomously deliver them.
The new solution, called the Cleveron 701, is a semi-autonomous, remote-controlled electric delivery vehicle similar in some ways to the Tortoise vehicle now testing home delivery in Northern California for Albertsons Cos. Cleveron said its initial units are being piloted in Estonia now, and anticipates it can begin mass production in 2023.
“With our new driverless semi-autonomous vehicle, we are enabling retailers and logistics companies to solve complex and costly last-mile delivery challenges while satisfying consumer demand for same day, and in some cases, same hour deliveries,” Cleveron CEO Arno Kütt said in a release. “Since Cleveron received the first license in Europe to test drive an unmanned vehicle on the streets of Estonia last year without restrictions, we have been amazed at how easily Cleveron 701 has become an organic part of the city life. What’s more, consumers can get groceries, parcels, restaurant deliveries or even ice cream from an environmentally friendly delivery robot.”
Unlike fully self-driving vehicles, the 701 is piloted by a remote driver watching a live feed from on-board cameras in a style not unlike a video game like Mario Kart: This practice is potentially more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional driver fleets and is seen as a faster way to achieve autonomous delivery capabilities for appropriate orders while communities wrestle with complex regulations and safety concerns around fully driverless vehicles.
Cleveron said the 701 would drive in low-traffic areas, such as suburbs, to deliver goods within a 15- to 30-minute driving range of a retailer, fulfillment center or a dark store. It can travel up 30 miles per hour and has a load capacity of about 500 pounds. The unit can be modified to operate as a grocery delivery vehicle with temperature-controlled compartments, but could also serve as a high-tech coffee robot or ice-cream truck, Cleveron said in a release.
U.S. consumers are familiar with Cleveron as the creator of the “Rapunzel” pickup towers deployed in Walmart Supercenters. These units—compared to giant orange vending machines—store and distribute e-commerce orders that consumers can self-retrieve in stores with using an electronic code and without requiring assistance from store employees, helping stores efficiently do double duty as omnichannel pickup sites. Cleveron is also behind a number of automated pickup lockers being utilized as self-service click-and-collect points by retailers such as Albertsons’ Jewel-Osco brand.
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