Snapdeal Starts Testing ‘Contactless Last Mile Delivery’ with Autonomous Robots

snapdeal - robot last mile delivery

The widespread COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed how businesses operate in India. E-commerce and food delivery giants have adopted contactless delivery models to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, keeping the safety of both its delivery partners and customers in mind. Indian e-commerce giant Snapdeal is also taking a major step in this direction and has successfully tested using autonomous robots for last-mile delivery.

Snapdeal has partnered with homegrown mobility startup, Ottonomy IO, for the last-mile delivery tests. Some of the orders placed by customers in the Delhi NCR region were delivered by a robot, as seen in the image above (via ET).

This four-wheeler robot, which is equipped with a camera and 3D LiDAR sensor, can run along sidewalks and local streets autonomously to deliver your orders safely. It is also said to be capable of navigating crowded places using computer vision and AI algorithms. The robot is programmed with the layout of the delivery areas, with the cameras and sensors helping it build a model of the real world.

The major highlight of this autonomous robot will, however, have to be the in-built disinfection feature. Ottonomy IO has equipped the robot compartments with UV lighting to disinfect the packages on the way of the delivery. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative and an essential feature during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Delivery via robots is part of the evolving future of logistics and we are excited to partner with Ottonomy IO to test these technologies. We believe that [the] delivery robots will have a unique role to play in e-commerce deliveries in large townships, institutional campuses, and other managed residential environments,” states the e-commerce giant in an official statement.

Now, one of the biggest questions that you may have is – how will I receive the order? Will my package be safe while being carried around by the robot?

During the tests, the autonomous robots could be found at the entrance of societies. The robot is equipped with a map of the society and can navigate to the destination quite easily. The delivery agent would scan the QR code and place the packages in a locked compartment, which also sanitizes the same on the way of delivery.

When the Ottonomy robot reaches a customer’s doorstep, they receive an alert that the package is here. They now have to scan a unique QR code sent to their device to unlock their package compartment. You can then retrieve your orders and the robot can carry on with other deliveries in the society.

Further, Snapdeal adds that robots are remotely monitored and can be controlled if any human intervention is required. The robots can carry multiple orders, with a user only being able to unlock their own package’s compartment. This is an amazing initiative that not only further reduces the points of contact but also disinfects your packages to maintain certain hygiene standards.

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